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Agriculture

“Sandesh Pathak”- A Software application to aid farmers

C-DAC Mumbai, IIT-Madras, IIIT Hyderabad, IIT Kharagpur, and C-DAC Thiruvananthapuram have jointly developed  the “Sandesh Pathak” software application. The application uses TTS (Text-To-Speech) software to help out farmers by reading out loud SMS messages and benefiting those who may have difficulty in reading. Thus, when a farmer receives an SMS message either containing agriculture-related advice or some other thing, the Sandesh Pathak application will read aloud the content.

The application is available for download from the Appstore of the Mobile Seva Project of Government of India. The application takes the received SMS message as Input and reads the SMS message out aloud. There is also an option to select the language (5 Indian languages supported namely: Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarathi and Telugu) and speed of the voice as normal, slow, slower, fast and faster.

The Sandesh Pathak application is part of the project launched by the Indian Government to assist farmers read SMS which may be of the following types:

  • Advice to solve farming problems viz. fertilizer, weed management, etc.
  • Weather forecasts
  • Updates on latest technology for agriculture, etc.

‘Kisan Card’ launched by Axis bank to facilitate easy agriculture lending to farmers through ATMs.

Screenshot_2The private lender bank, Axis Bank launched an electronic Kisan Card on the RuPay platform, through which a farmer can withdraw up to Rs. 1 lakh per day from Automated Teller Machines ( ATMs)

Purpose: To facilitate easy agriculture lending to farmers through ATMs.

Electronic Kisan Card

  • Will be offer to agrarian customers on their cash credit crop loan accounts.
  • Helpful for them to reduce the interest burden as the interest payments start after withdrawal of the money.
  • Provides queue free, 24×7 disbursement facility for farmers.
  • Allows them to use their loan limit by withdrawing cash up to Rs 1 Lakh per day, in the required quantum, as and when required, thereby reducing their interest burden and negating the risk of carrying higher volumes of cash. 

India’s spices export registered 41% increase in April-Dec 2013

As per the data released by the Spices Board at Kochi, the India’s spices export in rupee terms registered an increase of 41% in the current financial year (April-Dec 2013). The total volume of 1,93,625 tonnes seed spices valued at Rs.1,906 crore has been exported against 1,09,067 tonnes valued at Rs.1,008 crore in the previous year.

  • Seed spice basket had registered 78 % increase in volume and 89 % in value.
  • Cumin registered a prominent increase of 89 % in volume and 83 % in value.
  • Mint and mint products viz. mint oils, menthol and menthol crystals topped the item-wise list.
  • Value-added products viz. spice oils, oleoresins, etc, fetched Rs. 1,242 crore by exporting 8,665 tonnes.
  • Pepper and cardamom (small) marked an increase of 41 % and 23 % respectively.

 Note: Indian spices export is on course to touch $3 billion by 2016-17.

GEAC revalidated 10-GM crops for field trails

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) revalidated the field trials for 10 varieties of Genetically Modified (GM) food crops viz. wheat, rice, maize, cotton, sorghum, etc.

  • The panel has allowed multi-national seed companies viz. Mahyco, BASF India and Monsanto India to go ahead with wider or phase-II field trials for these genetically modified crops.
  • The companies desiring to go for confined field trials will have to approved first by the respective State governments because agriculture is a State subject under Constitutional provision.
  • Revalidation of GM crops varieties was required due to the lapse of validity period on account of State governments not allowing field trial.
  • The GEAC had given its clearance in those 10 cases way back in 2011 and 2012.

Functions of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC)

  • To permit the use of GMOs and products thereof for commercial applications.
  • To adopt producers for restriction or prohibition, production, sale, import & use of GMOs both for research and applications under EPA.
  • To approve for conduct of large scale field trials, evaluation of large scale field trial data and final approval for release of transgenic crop in to the environment.
  • To authorize large scale production and release of GMOs and productsthereof into the environment.
  • To authorize agencies or persons to have powers to take punitive actions under the EPA.

Note: The committee under the chairmanship of additional secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) Mr. Hem Pande did not take decision on any new cases in its meeting on Friday. It will meet again on April 25, 2014 to take a call on 70 fresh applications.

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