NAFTC IN march 2019

Dear NAFTC relation,


Nearly 50% of India is currently facing drought

The continuing drought will further burden the already depleting groundwater resources of the country.

Nearly 50 per cent of the country is currently facing drought with at least 16 per cent falling in the "exceptional" or "extreme" category, according to IIT Gandhinagar scientists managing India's real-time drought prediction system.

This ongoing drought will pose a lot of challenges in water availability this summer said Vimal Mishra, associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

The results of the simulations, prepared by the Water and Climate Lab at IIT Gandhinagar, are available on the website of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

"About 47 per cent of the country is facing drought -- with 16 per cent facing extreme, or exceptional category of drought -- which we show from our real-time monitoring system that we have developed for the country," said Mishra, who heads the lab.

"Arunachal Pradesh did not get good rain this year, and parts of Jharkhand, southern Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and northern part of Tamil Nadu are under drought," Mishra said.

If these areas experience very hot summer before the onset of monsoon, it could lead to a crisis, he warned. According to him, the continuing drought will further burden the already depleting groundwater resources of the country.

"We are not enhancing groundwater recharge. On the other hand, drought conditions are making us extract more and more water," he said.

While famine-like conditions are not expected, the drought will have a massive impact on the economy."It can create long-term stress, if not mortality for poor, marginalised farmers," Mishra said.

The scientist said global warming and climate change are likely to exacerbate drought in the coming years."If our groundwater is not recharged and managed sustainably, we could face a very difficult situation in the coming years," Mishra said, adding that groundwater is being used irresponsibly at present.

"You can reduce groundwater by selecting appropriate crops. If we already have depleted groundwater, we should not grow water-intensive crops. For example, Punjab should not be growing rice," Mishra said.
"The government needs to take some tough decisions as far as ground water, and water conservation is concerned," Mishra said.

"The government thinks drought is a reactive situation, that they will provide a relief only once there is a crisis with the data available, they can take proactive measures to prevent a water crisis," Mishra said.


Water Management in farms for viable agriculture growth

The reform must begin now, and it should start by first changing our mindset. Pricing water and water-related services adequately can encourage people to waste and pollute less.

Water one of the precious natural resources is depleting severely in India. The past few decades has witnessed a significant increase in demand for water across sectors, leaving India facing the worst water crisis in its history. It is estimated that by 2050 the per capita availability of water at national level will drop by 40-50% and water scarcity can lead to loss of up to 6 per cent of GDP by 2030. A recent study by the National Geophysical Research Institute showed that the largest depletion of groundwater in the world is happening in North India, with Delhi being the epicentre of this growing crisis. Experts say that groundwater is being pumped out 70% faster than was earlier estimated. While the situation is alarming, the efforts to conserve water have been negligible as the country lacks both in advocacy and implementation.

Impact on agriculture
Unmonitored water wastage is causing a huge loss to farmers who face increased production cost and extreme poverty in drought-prone areas. Approximately 78 per cent of the fresh water available in the country is consumed by agriculture. The inequity in irrigation water allocation among crops, with more than 60 per cent of it being diverted for the cultivation of water-guzzling crops like sugarcane and paddy adds to the distress. These are the two most water-intensive crops and are being cultivated widely in some of the most water-stressed regions of the country. Further, groundwater is increasingly pumped out for irrigation given the free or subsidized access to electricity in many states resulting in groundwater depletion. It is estimated that Indian farmers use two to four times more water to produce a unit of major food crop than in China or Brazil. With the drop in the water table, there is an increase in the cost of pumping, salination, presence of heavy metals etc., raising questions about the cost of crop production and quality of the produce.

Need for strategic planning
India has capacity to become world’s food basket if sustainable agriculture practices are adopted. Water management can be a huge game changer. Over-dependence on monsoon with little effort of conserving it is costing the sector growth. Today agriculture contributes approximately 17 per cent of the nation’s GDP. With approx. 80% of country population dependent on agriculture, the contribution to GDP can be increased much more. The irrigation infrastructure has seen substantial expansion over the years, but it is clearly not enough. Turning a blind eye to water management with no unified vision towards water resources will soon turn us into a water-starved nation.

Modern technologies and localized strategies
For sustainable agriculture growth adoption of water-saving technologies with modern irrigation methods such as sprinkler and drip irrigation systems need to be implemented aggressively. Crop rotation should be adopted according to agro-climatic conditions of the region. Agro forestry and horticulture should be given priority in water-deficient areas. Beyond that, each state should work on long-term and sustainable solutions for water conservation. Integrated water development plans should be applied on a priority basis with of coordination between various departments to save the situation from becoming worse.

Role of government
Our country has also set few examples of water conservation at small scales. The Niti Aayog has reported that Rajasthan has strengthened its water management practices. Other states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have also shown improvement. However, 60 per cent of the remaining states (15 out of 24) have been classified as low performers in terms of water conservation.

Private sector participation
It is evident that private company participation can bring a big difference in changing the water scenario of country. Public-private partnership (PPP) in promoting water conservation can go a long way to recharge underground water and channelize water for agriculture. All that we need is common goal and a holistic approach. At present, the government is developing integrated micro-irrigation networks through PPPs to integrate common infrastructure that provides water from canals to the farm gate with on-farm micro-irrigation infrastructure. But the call of the time is more involvement of private companies, devising their own means to develop solutions for water conservation in rural/agriculture belts.

Solution to bring the change
Sustainable water management has huge role to play in doubling farmer’s income, a notable goal set by the Government. It will contribute in improving crop yield and enhance quality of crops and better-quality crops will fetch more returns to farmers. The reform must begin now, and it should start by first changing our mindset. Pricing water and water-related services adequately can encourage people to waste and pollute less. Water-related issues have often taken an ugly shape in the past. It is critical that the situation is eased by making best use of the available technologies and resources to increase water use efficiency. Conserving water is the way to secure our future.


We would like to have more Indian students with agricultural background, said French delegates at Amity University

A high-profile delegation from France visited the Amity University, Noida campus to explore the possible areas of collaboration, areas of mutual interests and exchange programmes for French and Indian students duly supported by the French Ministry of Agriculture, which would prove beneficial for both the countries in the long run.

Françoise Moreau-Lalanne, the Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, Embassy of France in India expressed that number of exchange students from India in France are very less in the area of study on agriculture. India is primarily an agrarian economy; therefore, we would like to have more Indian students from agricultural background to visit France and research in collaboration with the French students. She said both India and France have some common fields of interest which we could work upon. She averred that she would like to help students from Amity who want to pursue research in France and need financial assistance and scholarships. She exclaimed that we need to understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses and requirements, as developing nations, for better collaboration.

Jean-Christophe Ygrié, EPLEFPA Lozère – LaCanourgue, with the help of a presentation, apprised about the key areas in which the French ministry has worked till date with the Indian government. He said that we would like to collaborate with Amity in the field of education and research by facilitating the concept of exchange students. He averred that Agroecology could also be an area for possible collaboration. He apprised that we are working in networks to reach our goals like the Indian network and the Brazilian network. He told that we abide by the motto of the French Ministry, –Produce Differently, that’s why are constantly collaborating with countries for innovations.

Prof. (Dr.) Gurinder Singh, Group Vice-Chancellor, Amity University apprised that we are seeking for possible collaboration with the French delegation on Student exchange, Food exchange, Horticulture and Wine culture. He apprised that Amity University has the largest number of French speaking students with over 15000 students. He said that we, as an institution have, tremendous respect for French language, culture and heritage. He suggested the formation of a matrix which would facilitate the process of collaboration.

Dr. Nutan Kaushik, Director General, Food & Agriculture Foundation, Amity University said that Amity University has been working closely in the areas related to agriculture and organics. She exclaimed that departments like Amity Institute of Herbal Research, Amity Institute of organic Agriculture and Amity Institute of Phytochemistry and phytomedicine have contributed thoroughly in the development of Amity University in the field of agriculture. She apprised about the awareness campaigns that have been launched at Amity for Farmer’s Skill Enhancement. She said that her foundation’s thematic focus areas were – Improving agricultural productivity, Improving nutritional status for women and children and human outreach.

The meeting was attended by Research scholars, Directors, Professors, Students and Innovators from Amity University.


Radiation plants planned to increase shelf life of potatoes

Experts said that the process would do away with the need for cold storage where the chemical Chlorpropham is used, which is reported to have ill effects on the human body.

The plant will help improve the shelf life of potatoes, and help farmers get higher returns, as it cuts the cost of using currently available options of cold storage.

Much to the relief of farmers burdened with high storage costs in the country’s potato growing region Banaskantha, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) is planning to set up low-dose micro-radiation plants in the state where they can get their produce irradiated. This will improve the shelf life of potatoes, and help farmers get higher returns, as it cuts the cost of using currently available options of cold storage.

Ruling out any negative effect of radiation on the health of people consuming irradiated potatoes, experts said that the process would do away with the need for cold storage where the chemical Chlorpropham is used, which is reported to have ill effects on the human body.

K N Vyas, chairman of the AEC, assured the farmers of this during a two-day conference, ‘Application of Nuclear Energy in Food and Agriculture, Water, Industry and Sewage treatment’ at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU), Gandhinagar, Monday.

“This (to set up low-dose micro-radiation plants) has come as a suggestion from the farmers today (Monday). We had been planning this for some time. Since huge costs and handling expertise is required, the AEC is exploring possibilities of setting up small stationary plants across the state where farmers can get their produce irradiated,” Vyas told The Indian Express.

During a session on application of radiation in food and agriculture, Ramjibhai Bhatol, a farmer from Palanpur in Banaskantha district, raised the demand. In response, Satyendra Gautam from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) said, “We have thought about the plants that can be used by the farmers who can come directly and get their produce irradiated. We are working on it.”

Shubhasish Bhattacharya from Danver Hydromatics, that has set up majority of the 15 radiation plants in the country, added that one such plant is needed in each district. “We cannot ban chlorpropham use because we do not have alternative. We have only three plants that are available for low-dose radiation — at Nashik, Bangalore and Mumbai. All other 15 radiation plants in India are working round the clock with a waiting period,” he said .

The cold storage uses CIPC aerosol spray treatment thrice during six months of preservation. Chlorpropham is the major ingredient in the treatment.
Gautam said three layers of chlorpropham leaves residue, which is not good for the health, and that is the reason why the European Union is going to ban it.
“The irradiated food does not leave any residue, nutritionally everything has been tested and United Nations’s best regulatory agencies like World Health Organisation, International Institute of Agriculture and Food and Agriculture Organisation have approved this.
Today a total of 60 countries are using it (radiation).”

Sanjay Prasad, additional chief secretary in agriculture, farmers and co-operation department, said that the PDPU could be a partner for operation and maintenance of the commercial gamma irradiation plant at Bavla near Ahmedabad. “This plant could also be utilised by the PDPU for training and skill development.”

A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between BARC and PDPU to collaborate in academic and research activities.


Food processing sector got $11bn since 2017

The country’s food processing sector has received investments of around $11 billion out of the $14 billion committed by domestic and foreign investors during the World Food Summit held in the national capital in 2017, a senior union minister said on 4th March 2019.

Minister of food processing, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, said out of the 11 companies that had signed agreements, eight have already started investing in the sector.

“I am quite happy with the companies that have come in and because of that our domestic companies, including Amul and Reliance are all expanding. We have a huge market and there is huge demand,” Badal told in an interview.
“With time, there will be several foreign and domestic tie-ups and slowly others, who are hesitant, will be forced to enter this market because anybody who wants to expand will have to look at India. They cannot ignore it,” she said.

Apart from the investments in the greenfield retail projects, the minister said, the food processing sector, too, has undergone major transformation, which has had a positive impact for farmers.

For instance, there were only two mega food parks earlier and currently there are 22. “If you talk about cold chains, there were 37 when I took over and there is going to be 135 by May. So, if there were 5,000 farmers who were impacted by the food parks, now there will be 53,000 farmers. The way forward is to come up with schemes to fill in the blanks because these were big mega schemes,” Badal said.

The minister said the unfinished task was to set up a special funding entity for the sector. Badal had pushed for a separate non-banking finance company (NBFC) for the food processing sector but she said the prime minister’s office is examining the issue.

“The one thing that we need is the special financing for this sector because the rate at which this sector is growing if we could get our own institution to finance them, the speed would be five times more,” she said.

The minister said she had ordered for a new study to assess the impact of the measures to cut down on wastage of food produce. She said the processing capacity had increased significantly in the five years from 2014.


India has science on its side, but picks culture to fight US over blood meal feed for cattle

India has refused to budge on import of dairy products sourced from animals fed blood meal citing 'cultural and religious sentiments'. Experts say the position is unfortunate as there is a scientific basis for such a decision too.

US President Donald Trump decision to withdraw the preferential trade treatment for India under generalised system of preferences (GSP) programme hinges on the Narendra Modi government’s refusal to import dairy products sourced from animals fed blood meal.

India has refused to budge citing “cultural and religious sentiments”, thus failing to meet US’s eligibility criteria for the trade agreement, under which India gets to export $5.6 billion worth of goods to US duty-free.

American dairy lobby groups insisted Indian market import dairy products sourced from animals that are fed blood meal, a protein-rich dietary supplement for cattle that utilises blood from slaughtered animals, in the US.

However, “cultural and religious sentiments” aside, scientific reasoning also stands against the use of animal products derived from cattle that has been fed blood meal.

According to Sagari Ramdas, animal breeding and genetics expert, field veterinarian and livestock researcher, blood meal poses a health risk to animals and also to humans who consume products from cattle fed a blood meal diet.

A statement by ministry of commerce said, “India has clarified that while our certification requirement, that the source animal should not have been fed animal derived blood meal, is non-negotiable given the cultural and religious sentiment, the requested simplified dairy certification procedure, without diluting this requirement, could be considered.”

“It is unfortunate that the government is invoking religious and cultural concerns, when the scientific basis of such a decision (of not using blood meal as feed for animals) is clearly situated,” Ramdas told

According to her, the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or the Mad Cow Disease in the 1980s occurred because the diseased cattle were fed animal tissue.

“As a result of that the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and several countries, for instance Australia, have a total ban on feeding any form of ruminant feed containing animal tissue or blood meal to ruminants. And it is taken from a very pragmatic and scientific basis and also from the point of view that you do not want to compromise on consumer confidence,” Ramdas said.

Ruminant are mammals that acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in four-chambered stomach prior to digestion. Ruminants include cattle, bovines, goats, sheep, deer and other animals.

One of the countries that did not implement this ban on ruminant feed is the US. “There is precedent, both from the OIE and other countries. So to invoke religious sentiments when you have a strong scientific reason behind it is, in my opinion, a very compromised state to be in,” Ramdas added.

According to Animal Health Australia (AHA) website, the country adopted a voluntary ban on the feeding of ruminant material to ruminants in 1996 to “minimise the risk of recycling the BSE agent if it were introduced.” The website further states that the AHA has coordinated the ruminant feed ban as part of the nation’s “commitment to retain its Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) free status.”

According to Ramdas, blood meal, which consists of dried up blood from slaughtered cattle, is mostly used to enhance milk production in cattle due to its high protein content. However, negative health impacts on the animal fed a blood meal diet could also be transmitted to humans who consume products like milk from the said animal.

Indian officials, however, stand against animal product imports from the US from blood meal-fed cattle on the basis of cultural and religious sentiments. The idea of a cow, a revered animal in India, being fed a non-vegetarian diet becomes “non-negotiable” for India. The stand against blood meal is also political.

"According to article 20 (a) of the of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 1994 members can adopt or enforce measures that are necessary to protect public morals. We have presented our argument based on the provision. Additionally, it is also a call by the Centre to maintain this stand," an official from the ministry of commerce said, when asked why a scientific stand was not taken against import of blood meal-fed animal products.

While Indian officials have opted not to take a scientific stand, the National Milk Producers Federation and the US Dairy Export Council, two American lobby groups, went on record last year to say that India has “maintained unscientific dairy certificate requirements for dairy imports” and has “refused extensive good-faith efforts to restore trade in dairy products between the US and India”.

Ramdas said that thus a scientific resistance to blood meal-fed animal products has far more basis. She also mentioned that a ruminant feed like blood meal or animal tissue diet is not the natural preference of ruminants.

“The natural preference of a ruminant is to graze on a plant based diet. So feeding a ruminant an animal tissue is not physiologically and anatomically a natural fit, unlike a carnivore,” Ramdas said. “Animals are very picky about what they eat.”


Value added dairy products segment to maintain higher growth in India

While packaged liquid milk is to remain a key driver in the Indian dairy industry, value added products are promising a growth of 15 per cent to 20 per cent with expected growth in cheese, UHT milk, ice-cream and baby food segments. Notably, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare informed to the Lok Sabha that milk production in the country stood at 165.4 million tonnes during 2016-17 which increased to 176.35 million tonnes in 2017-18.

As per industry experts, India is contributing about 17 per cent of the total milk production globally. With the projected milk production of 254.5 million tonnes in 2021-22, India will become the largest milk producer in the world. As per Rabobank analysis, in 2016-17 Indian dairy market was largely divided into Liquid Milk (64 per cent), Value Added Products (25 per cent), Ghee (7 per cent) and Milk Powder (4 per cent). Value Added Products in dairy segment is further growing at 15 per cent to 20 per cent year on year that has varied products like cheese, UHT milk, curd, baby Foods, Ice-cream, Butter, Flavored Milk and Dairy Whitener.

Mr Anuj Modi, Director, Lotus Dairy Products Ltd. says, “Value added market in dairy industry is expected to expand to 30 per centof dairy industry by 2020. Indian organised dairy sector is required to strengthen the procurement and processing line to scale up for value added market. On the other side, Industry is looking health aspects very strictly and focus is shifting on nutrition in the milk and value added products which unorganised market is not serving.”

Indian consumer is becoming more health conscious and demand for healthier products with natural, organic and an ayurvedic ingredient is increasing. Changing consumer lifestyle, increasing number of working women and increasing personal disposable incomes are leading to an increase in demand of value added dairy products. Smaller packs of packaged dairy products are being aggressively marketed for the second and third tier markets to deepen a brand’s penetration and increase the volume in the country. The increasing numbers of players in the dairy sector are focusing their strategies towards the untapped semi-urban and rural regions, which offer significant opportunities for growth.

The US dairy industry is indirectly putting pressure on India to open market access. Recent decision of US administration to terminate the preferential trade status granted to India was warmly welcomed by US dairy Industry. If both the countries will join hands with good-faith negotiations in future, small organised dairy players may face stiff competition or may look forward JV possibilities.

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

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