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Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Agriculture and its allied sectors are the largest providers in India, more so in the vast rural areas. The principal means of livelihood is agriculture for more than 58 percent of rural households. It also contribute nearly 16.5% of the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) of India in 2019-20. Current Affairs About Agriculture is a very important topic for UPSC and other State PCSs exams. The topic of Agriculture is very important from India’s perspective as this sector is important in contributing to India’s GDP and creating rural employment and livelihood. The share of agriculture and allied sectors in the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) of the country was 51.9%, which has come down in the present day. This decline is largely due to the shifting from a traditional agrarian economy to industry and service sectors.
1. Seaweed Mission:
What is Seaweed?
Seaweed is the common name for a variety of different species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean and places like rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. There are some seaweeds that are microscopic, like phytoplankton, that live suspended in the water column and provide the base for the majority of food chains.
Seaweed species in India:
The commercially exploited seaweed species in India mainly include Kappaphycusalvarezii, Gracilaria edulis, Gelidiellaacerosa, Sargassum spp., and Turbinaria spp. Seaweeds are valued for commercial products such as Carrageenan and Agar besides being used for the production of polysaccharides, fertilizer, sludge, and other high-value products such as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals for use against various lifestyle diseases.
Out of the global seaweed production of ~ 32 million tons fresh weight is valued at around 12 billion US dollars. China produces ~57 %, Indonesia ~28% followed by South Korea, whereas India is having a mere share of ~0.01-0.02%. Despite several advantages, commercial seaweed cultivation has not taken place in the country at an appropriate scale, as is being practiced in South-East Asian countries.
By an estimate, if cultivation is done in ≈10 million hectares or 5% of the EEZ area of India, it can provide employment to ~ 50 million people; set up a new seaweed industry; contribute to national GDP; ocean productivity; abates algal blooms, sequesters millions of tons CO2; Healthier ocean; bio-ethanol of 6.6 billion liters.
The Mission envisages the following activities:
- Establishing model demonstration farms over one hectare for the cultivation of economically important seaweeds in nearshore and onshore along the Indian coast.
- Kappaphycus all over the Indian coast
- Gracilaria dura in Gujarat
- Gracilariaverrucosa in Chilka lake (Odhisa)
- Ulva Linza or Ulva proliferainChilka lake (Odhisa)
- Ulva Lactuca or Ulva fasciata or Ulva indica all over Indian coast
- Establishment of seaweed nurseries for supplying seed material for large-scale farming of economically important seaweeds in the country
- Ulva (spore-based methods or vegetative as applicable)
- Kappaphycus and Gracilaria (vegetative methods)
- Establishment and demonstration of processing technologies/recipes for edible seaweeds in line with consumer acceptability or cultural food habits
- Dried flakes, Dried powder, Dried sheets, or processed dried sheets with additional flavor meet the acceptance/perceptions of people
- Seaweed-based proteins as an alternative to meet
- Food supplements
- Feed supplements
Setting up of processing plant for integrated production of plant growth stimulants (sap) along with industrially important cell wall polysaccharides (phycocolloids) such as agar, agarose, carrageenan, and alginates from fresh seaweeds
- Polysaccharides (Ulvan, agar, agarose, carrageenan, and alginates)
- Value addition technologies aimed at making high-value products for niche markets (personal care, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, feed supplements)
- An activity on seaweed cluster development includes value chain development, supply chain development, and collection of data on the environmental, economic, and social impacts of seaweed projects in the country.
2. Miyawaki Technique:
A path of land in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs has become a testament to creating the ‘urban forests’ through the Miyawaki technique.
What is a Miyawaki plantation?
In the Miyawaki technique, various native species of plants are planted close to each other so that the greens receive sunlight only from the top and grow upwards than sideways. As a result, the plantation becomes approximately 30 times denser, grows 10 times faster, and becomes maintenance-free after a span of 3 years.
How To Grow A Miyawaki Forest:
Step 1: Procure saplings of native tree and shrub varieties. Saplings of native plants are generally cheaper than exotic and ornamental plants (with prices usually ranging from 10-80 Rs). However, procuring plants for larger plots may be expensive as an average of 4000 trees or more are planted per acre in the Miyawaki method. Developing a nursery and propagating the plants can effectively bring down the cost. Growing plants in pots or grow bags allow for more effective management of the growing medium; making it easier to manage the soil in which the sapling grows. This ensures the soil is healthy and nutrient-rich. Plants are also easier to water and nurse in case of disease when grown in pots. Healthy saplings can then be transplanted onto the demarcated forest patch sometime between a few months to a year.
Step 2: Once the plants are ready to be transplanted, soil preparation processes begin. First holes of one-meter depth are dug. The soil dug out is checked, understanding the soil of the forest patch helps a grower intervene more effectively to enhance its quality. Growers employ a range of strategies like adding compost, cocopeat, groundnut shells, beneficial micro-organisms, and shredded leaf litter to enhance the soil. Once the soil is treated, the saplings are placed into the holes and the soil is returned to where it was dug out from.
Step 3: The trees planted need to be watered regularly henceforth. Having an irrigation line or water outlet that allows you to reach all trees is essential. The trees need to be watered every day (or as frequently to ensure that the soil surface does not dry out). Watering requirements reduce sharply after the first year or two.
Step 4: Insert support sticks for the saplingsHard wooden sticks are firmly inserted next to the saplings. The saplings are then tied and secured to the stick. This provides support for the sapling. This ensures the saplings grow straight and don’t droop. The additional support also provides a degree of protection during bad weather.
3. Saguna Rice Technique:
The Saguna Rice Technique(SRT) will help stop the stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.
What is Saguna Rice Technique:
Saguna Rice Technique is a unique new method of cultivation of rice and related rotation crops without plowing, puddling, and transplanting (rice) on permanently raised beds. This is a zero-till, Conservation Agriculture (CA) type of cultivation method. The permanent raised beds used in this method facilitate ample oxygen supply to the root zone area while maintaining optimum moisture conditions there. SRT has made suitable changes in conventional rice cultivation to ease farmers’ laborious work and to prevent fertility loss during puddling.
- SRT insists that all roots and small portions of the stem should be left in the beds for slow rotting.
- No plowing, puddling, or hoeing is to be done to control weeds.
- This system will get the crop ready for harvesting 8 to 10 days earlier.
- Take this into consideration while choosing a variety to avoid getting harvesting caught in receding rain.
4. PLI Scheme For Food Processing Industry:
Government of India in March 2020 to boost domestic manufacturing and cut down on import bills.PLISFPI for implementation during 2021-22 to 2026-27 has an outlay of Rs. 10,900 crore.
- Support Food manufacturing entities with stipulated minimum Sales and willing to make a minimum stipulated investment for expansion of processing capacity and Branding abroad to incentivize the emergence of strong Indian brands.
- Support creation of global food manufacturing champions;
- Strengthen select Indian brands of food products for global visibility and wider acceptance in the international markets;
- Increase employment opportunities for off-farm jobs,
- Ensuring remunerative prices of farm produce and higher income to farmers.
5. E-SANTA Web Portal:
Recently the Union Commerce and industry minister has inaugurated an electronic platform. It is an electronic marketplace providing a platform to connect aqua farmers and buyers. It will enable the farmers to get a better price and the exporters to directly purchase quality products from the farmers enhancing traceability, a key factor in international trade.
- It is a digital bridge to end the market divide and will act as an alternative marketing tool b/w farmers & buyers by eliminating middlemen.
- The farmers freely list their produce and quote their prices.
- The exporters list their requirements and also choose the products based on their requirements, desired size, location, harvest dates, etc
- Available in many languages which will help the local population.
- It will help in Raise -Reducing the Risk
- Awareness of products & Markets
- Increase in income
- Shielding against the wrong practice
- Ease of process
6. Nano Urea Liquid:
Nano urea is a nutrient (liquid) to provides nitrogen to plants as an alternative to conventional urea.
- It has been indigenously developed at Nano Biotechnology Research Centre, Kalol, Gujrat in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat and Atmanirbhar Krishi.
- It is developed to replace conventional urea and it can curtail the requirement of the same by at least 50%.
- It contains 40,000 ppm of Nitrogen in a 500 ml bottle, which is equal to the nitrogen nutrient impact provided by one bag of conventional Urea. This will not only reduce the input cost of farmers but also due to its small size, it will also significantly bring down the cost of logistics and warehousing. It is a nutrient (liquid) to provides nitrogen to plants as an alternative to conventional urea.
- It is developed to replace conventional urea and it can curtail the requirement of the same by at least 50%.
- It contains 40,000 mg/L of nitrogen in a 500 ml bottle which is equivalent to the impact of nitrogen nutrients provided by one bag of conventional urea.
7. Harit Dhara:
An Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institute has developed an anti-methanogenic feed supplement ‘HaritDhara’.
- HaritDhara decreases the population of protozoa microbes in the rumen, responsible for hydrogen production and making it available to the archaea (structure similar to bacteria) for reduction of CO2 to methane.
- It has been made from tannin-rich plant-based sources. Tropical plants containing tannins, bitter and astringent chemical compounds, are known to suppress or remove protozoa from the rumen.
- Fermentation after using HD will help produce more propionic acid, which provides more energy for lactose (milk sugar) production and body weight gain.
- This leads to economic benefits for farmers.
- HaritDhara has been prepared using condensed and hydrolyzable tannin-rich plant-based sources which act by decreasing the population of protozoa microbes in the rumen.
- Feeding HaritDhara not only cuts down their methane emissions by 17-20% but also results in higher milk production and body weight
8. National Innovations In Climate Resilient Agriculture:
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India launched a flagship network project ‘National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) in 2011. The project aims at strategic research on adaptation and mitigation, demonstration of technologies on farmers’ fields, and creating awareness among farmers and other stakeholders to minimize the climatic change impacts on agriculture.
- To enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture covering crops, livestock, and fisheries to climatic variability and climate change through the development and application of improved production and risk management technologies.
- To demonstrate site-specific technology packages on farmers’ fields for adapting to current climate risks.
- To enhance the capacity of scientists and other stakeholders in climate-resilient agricultural research and its application.
9. Purple Revolution:
The Purple or Lavender Revolution or The Aroma Mission was launched by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology through the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Aroma Mission, which aimed at increasing lavender cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir. The mission’s focus was to take advantage of the geographical conditions and increase the homegrown market along with farmers’ income.
Lavender cultivation is practiced in almost all the 20 districts of Jammu & Kashmir. Particularly, the districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Srinagar, Pulwama, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Kulgam, and Baramulla have made huge progress in this direction. Under the mission, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings, while those who had cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling.
The Aroma Mission:
The Aroma Mission is in line with PM Narendra Modi’s vision of improving farmers’ livelihoods and doubling their income. Under the Mission, initially, CSIR introduced high-value essential oil-bearing lavender crops through its Jammu-based laboratory, the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines (IIIM) for cultivation in districts Doda, Kishtwar, and Rajouri. However, the crop is native to Europe.
Apart from providing planting material, distillation units are provided and farmers are trained in the extraction process. As a result, many of them have become entrepreneurs specializing in lavender oil.
- The mission will promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils that are in great demand by the aroma industry.
- It is expected to enable Indian farmers and the aroma industry to become global leaders in the production and export of some other essential oils on the pattern of menthol mint.
- It aims to provide substantial benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilization of wastelands, and protection of their crops from wild and grazing animals.
Indian scientists have developed a high-yielding and pest-resistant variety of soybean, called MACS 1407. In 2019, India produced around 90 million tons of soybean, widely cultivated as oil seeds as well as a cheap source of protein for animal feed and many packaged meals and is striving to be among the world’s major producers of soybean. High-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of the legume can help achieve this target.
- Scientists from MACS- Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi have developed it.
- This newly developed variety called MACS 1407 is suitable for cultivation in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and North-Eastern states and its seeds will be made available to farmers for sowing during the 2022 Kharif season.
- In 2019, India produced around 90 million tons of soybean, widely cultivated as oil seeds as well as a cheap source of protein for animal feed and many packaged meals and is striving to be among the world’s major producers of soybean.
- High-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of the legume can help achieve this target.
- Scientists from MACS- Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi have developed this variety.