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Agriculture

World Food Prize 2014 to India-born scientist Sanjaya Rajaram

Sanjaya Rajaram, an India-born plant scientist, has been chosen for the World Food Prize 2014 for scientific research that led to a stupendous increase in world wheat production.

However, farm activists in the country criticised the prize as mere a public relations stunt by big agri-food companies who fund it.

Sanjaya Rajaram, a citizen of Mexico, took over Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug as head of the wheat breeding program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, where he worked for 33 years. The World Food Prize acknowledges his contribution to the breeding technologies which have made significant impact in providing more nutritious food around the world and assuaging world hunger.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center 

Commonly called by its Spanish acronym CIMMYT (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo) is a non-profit research and training institution dedicated to both the development of improved varieties of wheat and maize, and introducing better agricultural practices to farmers, thus bettering their livelihoods.

CIMMYT is one of the 15 non-profit, research and training institutions affiliated with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

El Nino effect may shrink India’s GDP by 1.75%: Assocham

As per a report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the 5% deficiency in rains due to possible El Nino factor in this monsoon could impact India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.75% in the 2014-15 fiscal, affecting lakhs of unskilled jobs. Rain deficit could also impact food inflation, which has always been a concern to policy makers. The loss to the GDP of about 1.75 % would be equivalent to around Rs 1,80,000 crore.

Indian agriculture in heavily dependent on rains as about 60% of net sown area of the country is rain-fed. With every 1% deficit in rains, the country’s GDP plummets by 0.35%. Therefore, a good agricultural output is a must for India to increase demand for services and industrial products.

India is forecasted to have below normal monsoon in 2014 with Meteorological department predicting 95% rainfall because of the El-Nino effect, which is generally linked with the warming of ocean water.

Indian Alphonso Mangoes banned in European Union

The 28-nation bloc European Union (EU) has imposed a temporary ban on the import of Alphonso mangoes, the king of fruits, and 4 vegetables from India effective from May 1, 2014. The move by EU has led to protests from the Indian community, legislators and traders. The temporary ban includes Alphonso mangoes, eggplant, taro plant, bitter gourd and snake gourd, and prohibits the import to tackle the deficiency in the sanitary certification system of such products exported to the EU.

Which fruits and vegetables are banned by the EU?

EU has imposed a temporary ban on following:-

  • Fruit(s): Alphonso Mangoes
  • Vegetables: Eggplant (Baingan), Taro plant (Arbi), Bitter Gourd (Karela), Snake Gourd (Chichinda)

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Why EU has banned Indian Mangoes and 4 vegetables?

The EU’s Standing Committee on Plant Health decided to impose the ban after 207 consignments of fruits and vegetables from India imported into the EU in 2013 were found to be contaminated by pests such as fruit flies and other quarantine pests. As per the Committee, the potential introduction of new pests could pose a threat to EU agriculture and production.

UK’s DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) that is supporting the ban apprehended that the new pests could jeopardize the country’s GBP 321 million salad crop industry of tomato and cucumber. The UK imports nearly 16 million mangoes from India and the market for the fruit is worth nearly GBP 6 million a year. A revision of the ban will be done before December 31, 2015.

Infosys Executive Chairman N R Narayana Murthy was conferred with the prestigious Canada India Foundation Chanchalani Global Indian Award 2014″ for his outstanding vision and leadership in the IT sector.

Canada India Foundation (CIF)

CIF, a non-profit organization, was established in 2007 to gather support for stronger ties between Canada and India in order to educate Canadians about the changing face of India and to raise the participation of Indo-Canadians in the public policy making process in Canada.

“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.
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