Agriculture Current Affairs

NABARD sanctions Rs. 19,702 crore loan to National Water Development Agency

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned loan worth Rs. 19,702 crore to National Water Development Agency (NWDA).

The loan will be provided through NABARD’s Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) for 50 irrigation projects from 11 States.

Key Facts

  • This loan will be part of the Central share of assistance to State Governments.
  • It will ensure front loading of resources so that the identified incomplete irrigation projects under Pradhan Mandtri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) are executed in time.
  • Loan released by NABARD to NWDA would be disbursed to the respective State Governments as Central Share in the projects sanctioned.

The LTIF was set up by NABARD as a sequel to the initiatives announced by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for irrigation purpose in his Budget Speech 2016-17.

What will be significance of these irrigation projects?

The loan funds for these irrigation projects will help to create additional irrigation potential of 39.14 lakh hectares in 11 States. Thus, it will support government’s vision to double the farmers’ income by 2022 as providing assured irrigation to farmers is one of the important prerequisites to achieve that target.

About National Water Development Agency (NWDA)

  • NWDA is the agency of the Union Ministry of Water Resources. It was set up in July, 1982 as autonomous society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It was established to carry out the water balance and other studies on a scientific and realistic basis for optimum utilisation of Water Resources of the Peninsular rivers system.
  • Besides it was tasked to prepare feasibility reports and give concrete shape to Peninsular Rivers Development Component of National Perspective.
  • In 1990, it was also entrusted with the task of Himalayan Rivers Development Component of National Perspectives.
  • Recently, the functions of NWDA have been further modified and the work of preparation of detailed Project Reports (DPR) of various link proposals and Pre-feasibility Reports.
  • It has been also entrusted to prepare feasibility reports of intra-State links as proposed by the States.


India, Algeria mull fertilizer Joint Venture

India has shown keen desire to initiate a joint venture (JV) arrangement with Algeria for a multi-billion dollar fertilizer plant located in the North African country.

The proposal in this regard has moved to front burner following a meeting between Algerian Minister for Industry and Mining and Indian Minister of State for Chemicals in Algiers.

However no specific agreements were signed between both courtiers at the end of Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s three-day visit to Algeria.

Why India is forming JV with Algeria?

Phosphorus is one of three important elements in the chemical fertilizers that are most important in plant nutrition along with nitrogen and potassium. India, which has up to 96% phosphate dependency. Currently, India imports raw phosphate resources from a number of African countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria and also from Russia, Canada and Israel among others. For India, forming JV Algeria will have major favourable food security implications and also could ease the fertilizer subsidy burden.


India’s bilateral trade with Algeria currently stands at 1.5 billion dollars a year with the trade balance in Algeria’s favour given India’s import of oil and gas. The major item of exports from India to Algeria has been automobiles.


Earlier, Vice-President Hamid Ansari had visited Hungary on as part of this two-nation trip (Hungary and Algeria). Both countries had signed two agreements including in the field of water management.


India, Russia ink agreement to set up 25 Agro Irradiation Centres

India and Russia have signed an agreement for cooperation in the development of a network of 25 integrated infrastructure Agro irradiation centres.

The agreement was signed between Indian Agricultural Association, Hindustan Agro Co-Op Ltd (HACL) and United Innovation Corporation (UIC), a subsidiary of ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia.

As part of the agreement, India-Russia joint venture (JV) will be formed in which HACL will have the majority 51% stakeholding. UIC will be a technology partner and will help set up the irradiation centres. In first phase 7 centers will be set up in Maharashtra in Sindhurg, Satara, Solapur, JNPT, Jalana, Napur and Pune.

Importance of Agreement

  • For the first time paves the way for establishment of network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centres in India to reduce agricultural losses.
  • These irradiation centres will help in treatment of perishable food items to improve shelf life and cut post-harvest losses.
  • It will further increase basket perishable items for irradiation process on a commercial scale ranging from flowers to fish.
  • Expand India-Russia cooperation in civil nuclear energy.

Why India needs strong network of Agro Irradiation Centres?

In India post-harvest losses in food and food grains are around 40-50%. It is primarily due to microbiological contamination, insect infestation, physiological changes due to sprouting and ripening, and poor shelf life. The wastage of fruits and vegetables including cereals, meat, pulses and flowers results in the annual loss estimated to be Rs. 2,50,000 crores. There is presence of few low level irradiation plants in the country which are not adequate.  So to reduce the losses in food and food grains and meet the demand it is necessary to increase strong network of agro irradiation centres.

What is food irradiation?

  • Food irradiation is a technology in which food products are subjected to a low dosage of radiation to treat them for germs and insects, increasing their longevity and shelf life.
  • It is the application of ionizing radiation to food in which energy is transmitted without direct contact in the targeted food.
  • The radiation can be emitted by a radioactive substance or generated electrically. The irradiated food does not become radioactive.
  • Radioisotopes are used as the source for the gamma rays. Generally cobalt-60 radioisotope is used as a radioactive source for gamma irradiation.
  • Then International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommends the irradiation doses for Food irradiation.
  • Benefits: Irradiation is equivalent to pasteurization for solid foods, but it is not the same as sterilization.
  • It does not reduce the nutritional value of food products and does not change their organoleptic properties and appearance.
  • The irradiation treatment of food and foodgrains preserves them for longer time, prevent the spread of invasive pests, delay/eliminate ripening or sprouting and reduce the risk of food borne illness.