Schermafbeelding 2019-04-16 om 11.42.41

Dear NAFTC relation,

NAFTC IN april 1

PepsiCo has a potato issue with farmers

After PepsiCo sued Gujarat farmers, over 190 activists urged the Centre to ask PepsiCo India to withdraw its "false" cases against the Gujarat farmers.

PepsiCo sued Gujarati farmers for 'infringing its right' by growing the potato variety used in its Lay's chips.
Over 190 activists on Wednesday urged the Centre to ask PepsiCo India to withdraw its "false"cases against Gujarat farmers for allegedly illegally growing a particular variety of potatoes "registered" by the company.

In a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, 194 signatories have sought financial aid and protection of rights of farmers who have been sued for growing and selling a potato variety called FC-5 potato, for which PepsiCo India Holdings claimed to have obtained "exclusive rights in the country in 2016".

"This is to bring to your urgent notice our serious concerns and facts around legal suits that are going against farmers on the matter of plant varietal rights. These are being filed by PepsiCo, a US multinational company against potato farmers in Gujarat, with regard to alleged infringement of its rights under Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights (PPVFR) Act 2001.

"For us, this is a matter of concern with regard to this set of farmers who have been sued and intimidated, as well as others who could be similarly bullied by seed and food corporations through vexatious litigation in the assertion of plant breeder rights," the letter said.
It asked the ministry to write to PepsiCo India Holdings, asking it to withdraw its "false and untenable cases" against the farmers.

The signatories, including leaders and members of farmers' unions, food activists, lawyers, NGOs, agricultural journalists and others have written to the ministry saying that farmers have the right to grow and sell a protected variety of seed and this right was required to be protected.

Kavitha Kurungati, an activist from volunteer group ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), said the letter seeks that the ministry should put out a public statement explaining the farmers' rights as enshrined in the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights (PPVFR) Act 2001 and also send it to the courts in Ahmedabad where the farmers are being sued.

"Farmers are very well within the right to produce and sell protected variety of seeds and PepsiCo cannot claim its intellectual property right on it. We have written to the ministry today as the hearings are coming up day after tomorrow," Kavitha said.

Hearings against the farmers are scheduled for April 26 at a commercial court in Gujarat which had, on the last hearing, issued an ex-parte interim injunction order against the farmers.

The activists also sought financial assistance to the farmers from the government.
"Provide from the National Gene Fund the costs of legal suits that the farmers are having to face, until the time that the cases are withdrawn by PepsiCo. Issue a notification that no company can trespass into a farmer's field without due intimation of the local district agriculture office and the farmer's prior informed consent," it said

NAFTC IN april 2

Water availability drops down to 26% across India

Total water availability in 91 major reservoirs in the country has reduced to 26 per cent of their actual storage capacity, the Agriculture Ministry said on Friday.

The total live storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs that are monitored by Central Water Commission is 161.99 BCM (billion cubic metre) and the water availability as on April 25 is 42.53 BCM or 26 per cent, it said.

However, the situation is better this year, Ministry said, as the storage was 37.31 BCM during the corresponding period last year. The average of last 10 years live storage is 41.074 BCM. The total live storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs is 161.99 BCM which is about 63 per cent of the live storage capacity of 257.812 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country.

In northern region, there are six CWC-monitored reservoirs and water availability on April 25 was 51 per cent or 9.17 BCM at present. Such 15 reservoirs in the eastern region has the total live storage of 35 per cent or 6.56 BCM.

In western region, total water availability in 27 reservoirs is 18 per cent or 5.67 BCM while in central region it is 30 per cent or 12.51 per cent in 12 reservoirs. In southern region, there are 31 such reservoirs where water availability is 17 per cent or 8.63 BCM.

NAFTC IN april 3

Vegetables prices skyrocket in major markets as supplies hit

The two successive seasons of deficient rainfalls has worsened supply of horticulture crops and fodder in the western India states Including Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The scenario has resulted into a sharp increase in the prices of vegetables with some varieties disappearing from spot markets. The scarcity of fodder, however, has prompted farmers for mass scale migration of milking animals in search of food and water.

While vegetable supply has already deteriorated, the situation is likely to aggravate with rising temperature in coming weeks. It may also hit milk supply in coming months.

“There is an acute shortage of water in many districts of Maharashtra. The nearby state of Gujarat is also facing drought. Hence, the supply of vegetables and fodder has been very low. Consequently, vegetables prices have skyrocketed. Farmers have started migrating for safe place in the districts like Aurangabad, Sangli, Vidarbha among others,” said a senior Maharashtra government official.

The deficiency of rainfalls has hit agriculture crops in both seasons i.e. kharif and rabi with actual output reported lower than their forecasts made in the beginning of the seasons. Private forecaster the National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC) has estimated India’s total cereal and pulses to decline by 10 per cent each and oilseeds production to fall by 4 per cent this rabi season due to drought in major cultivating regions.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture has reported a total foodgrains output at 142.27 million tonnes for kharif 2018-19 as against the total output of 140.73 million tonnes for the previous year.

“Vegetables prices have increased sharply due to lower supply. Unavailability of fodder due to drought in Maharashtra has also jacked up cost of milk production resulting into lower profit margins for farmers. To pass on the cost of production increase, therefore, farmers may raise their milk prices by upto Rs 2 a litre in coming months,” said Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist, Care Ratings.

Data compiled by the government owned National Horticulture Board (NHB) showed cauliflower arrival in Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) declined by 10 per cent in March to 273 tonnes. Its prices, however, have jumped by over 22 per cent in the wholesale APMC Mumbai market to Rs 11 a kg. Similarly, arrival of brinjal round slumped from 24 tonnes to 14 tonnes in March alone.

Sriram Gadhave, President of All India Vegetables Growers Association, believes that consumers will have to pay higher prices of their horticulture produce due to lower production this year.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture in the beginning of the current season had forecast India’s horticulture production at 314.67 million tonnes for 2018-19 as compared to 311.7 million tonnes reported in the previous year. Gadhave said that a large portion of the horticulture production was damaged due to drought in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Meanwhile, D K Joshi, Chief Economist, Crisil, said, “Agricultural land in Maharashtra is largely un-irrigated. While the irrigation scenario in Gujarat is better than Maharashtra, still the dependence on seasonal rainfalls across the state is much higher. With the El-Nino fear continues this year as well, overall macro agricultural economy is grim.”

NAFTC IN april 4

Potato startup Utkal Tubers just raised $1.44M in strategic funding

Bengaluru-based agri-tech startup, Utkal Tubers (Utkal), on Thursday said it has raised strategic funding of Rs 10 crore (or $1.44 million) from international potato breeding and seed potato production firm IPM Potato Group Limited (IPM).

IPM is a subsidiary of Donegal Investment Group plc and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
Set up in 2017, Utkal had raised $4.6 million from CapAleph Indian Millennium SME Fund and Zephyr Peacock India Fund in May 2017.

Utkal is a lab-to-land innovation company engaged in potato research, cultivation and marketing. Operating in seven states across India, and the partnership with IPM will allow Utkal to license an extensive portfolio of new potato varieties with improved disease resistance and high yield potential, as well as bring in high yielding varieties of potato seeds suited to Indian climatic conditions.

The company said in a statement that access to good quality seed potatoes and improved varietal genetics is a key challenge that Indian farmers face. The average yield of potato crops in India is low in comparison to other major potato producing countries, and just under half the average yield compared to Europe.

Utkal is working to improve access to good quality seed potatoes at an affordable price through variety innovation and significant investment in high grade seed production with modern aeroponic facilities. Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil.

Abhijeet Kudva, Managing Director, Zephyr Peacock India, said, “India is ranked second in potato production. About 90 percent of the potatoes are grown in just four states - Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Punjab. Farmers from other states typically have to pay 30-40 percent premium to access potato seeds in time. Utkal is addressing this need through research and developing new technologies.”

The introduction of new varieties from IPM will offer farmers improvements in yields, disease resistance and overall profitability.

Marcel de Sousa, IPM Director said, “We believe Utkal is well positioned to transform the potato value chain in India. The introduction of new potato varieties will add value for the farmer through improved yields and better resistance to drought and disease. Utkal’s streamlined operations and strong management team make them like-minded partners for us in the Indian market.’’

Utkal claims to be among the first companies to successfully produce seed potatoes in Gujarat and Assam, opening up new potential for improving access and availability of good quality seed potatoes.

NAFTC IN april 5

Soon, Indians will be able to sink their teeth into Brazilian chickens

Domestic poultry farmers worried as Brazil firm gets okay to sell products in India.

After frozen chicken legs from the US, poultry products from far-off Brazil are on their way to tickle the taste buds of Indian consumers.

JBS, the largest meat processor in Brazil, is set to introduce its chicken products, including thighs and leg quarters, in the Indian market soon through its subsidiary Seara.

It was reported last week that Seara has received approval from authorities here to sell its chicken products in the country.

Domestic poultry players are rattled at the latest threat; imports of poultry products rebounded in 2018-19 after India lost a protracted dispute at the WTO to the US.
Per the latest DGCIS (Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics) data, poultry product imports rose to 797.73 tonnes, valued at $5.45 million (₹37 crore) for the April-January 2018-19 period. In the previous financial year, poultry imports stood at 572 tonnes at $4.17 million (₹26.87 crore).

Interestingly, poultry imports from the US increased the most, at 136.92 tonnes valued at $1.2 million, in April-January 2018-19, as against 0.01 tonnes in the previous year.

Level playing field sought
Faced with a new threat, poultry players are seeking a level playing field to compete with low-cost producers such as the US and Brazil, where the birds are fed on genetically-modified corn and soyabean.
Besides seeking higher maize imports to tide over short supplies, poultry players also want the Centre to increase the bound duty on chicken product imports to protect domestic farmers.

“While the current duty levels on imports may provide a partial protection, in the long run the cheaper imports will harm the domestic poultry sector,” said B Soundararajan, Managing Director, Suguna, a large poultry player. At present, chicken portions such as legs and sausages attract 100 per cent duty.

“Chicken legs, which are not consumed in the West, are sold at a throwaway price. Despite 100 per cent duty, the imported chicken legs will still be cheap in India,” said Soundararajan. The cost of production for chicken legs is estimated at around $700-800 per tonne in the US. With 100 per cent duty, it would still be available at $1,500-1,600 per tonne, while the cost of production of processed chicken in India is around $1,800 per tonne, Soundararajan said. Further, he said, the government should provide a level playing field by allowing higher imports of maize, the main raw material for the poultry sector. “While maize prices are ruling at $300 per tonne in India, the same is available to poultry producers in Brazil and the US at $160-170 per tonne.

The government is now allowing higher imports. How can we compete with such high prices,” Soundararajan said.

Already, the cost of production has increased by over 40 per cent on over the past six months on higher maize prices. “The rising production cost is a big threat for domestic players as India becomes a lucrative market for low-cost producers such as the US and Brazil. Once out of business, it would be difficult for poultry farmers to make a comeback,” said KS Ashok Kumar, founder, MAA Integrators.

India’s per capita meat consumption, according to Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association, is set to grow to 5.98 kg by 2025 from 3.35 kg in 2017 with the population rising and income levels growing.

NAFTC IN april 6

India’s dairy exports hit 5-yr high of 152,736 tn in Apr-Feb

–India's Apr-Feb dairy exports at 5-year high of $404 mln

–India's Apr-Feb dairy exports up 76% on year at 152,736 tn

MUMBAI – Exports of dairy products from India in Apr-Feb hit a five-year high of 152,736 tn worth $404 mln, according to Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority data.
In the year-ago period, India exported 86,913 tn dairy products worth $260 mln.

Exports of dairy products surged as the price of milk (with 8.5% fat content) rose more in global markets than in domestic markets, said Kuldppe Saluja of Delhi-based Sterling Agro Industries Ltd.
Milk with 8.5% fat content is largely used in producing ghee, butter, and other dairy products, exporters said.

According to data, Global Dairy Trade Price Index has risen 4.5% since April 2018. The average price of dairy products at the latest auction on Apr 2 was $3,483 per tn.
The index takes into account prices of eight dairy products–rennet casein, butter, lactose, butter milk powder, anhydrous milk fat, cheddar, and skimmed milk powder.

The global dairy industry is also facing supply problems in 2019 due to weaker economic growth, higher prices, lacklustre retail sales, geopolitical conditions, and challenges of climate change, a news report said.

Pressure in milk production will be felt throughout the first half of 2019 and it may hit its lowest number since 2016, Rabobank said in a report.

Another factor that boosted the dairy export is the export subsidy provided to Gujarat and Maharashtra, the two leading milk-producing states, said R.P Singh of the Punjab State Co-operative Milk Producers Federation.

The government had increased the incentives for milk and some dairy products to 20% from 10% under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme. Products that attracted the 20% export incentives include whole milk, butter milk, condensed milk, yoghurt, skimmed milk, milk food for babies, and processed, grated and powdered varieties of cheese.

NAFTC IN april 7

India extends ban on import of milk products from China

The government extended the ban on import of milk and its products, including chocolates, from China till laboratories at ports are upgraded for testing presence of toxic chemical melamine.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had recommended extending the ban until all labs at ports are modernised to test the chemical. The ban was first imposed in September 2008 and extended subsequently from time to time. The latest ban imposed by the government ended 23rd April 2019.

“Prohibition on import of milk, milk products (including chocolates, chocolate products, candies/confectionery/food preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient) from China is extended until the capacity of all laboratories at ports of entry have been suitably upgraded for testing melamine,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification.

However, it has not mentioned any timeline for upgradation of that capacity of all laboratories.
The ban was imposed on apprehensions of presence of melamine in some milk consignments from China. Melamine is a toxic chemical used for making plastics and fertilisers.

Although India does not import milk, milk products from China, it has imposed the ban as a preventive measure.

FSSAI in a statement on Tuesday said that the ban on import of milk and milk products, including chocolates and chocolate products and confectionery or food preparations with milk and milk solids as ingredients from China may be extended until the capacity of all laboratories at ports of entry have been suitably upgraded for testing melamine.

India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of milk. It produces around 150 million tonne milk annually. Uttar Pradesh is the leading state in milk production followed by Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Kind regards,
Syed Abdul Rahman
Cluster Manager India
T: +91 80 46797905

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