Environment Current Affairs 2018

Latest Environment Current Affairs 2017 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2017 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2017

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India pitches for declaring 2019 as International Year of Millets

India (Union Ministry of Agriculture) has written to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of United Nations (UN) proposing declaration of year 2019 as “International Year of Millets”. It has requested inclusion of this proposal in agenda of 26th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) meeting, scheduled to be held in October 2018 in Rome, Italy. Adoption of this proposal by FAO with support of its member nations will enable it to be moved to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for declaration of 2019 as International Year of Millets.”

Note: India is celebrating 2018 as National Year of Millets. It is promoting cultivation of millets as part of this celebration by amending cropping pattern of areas which are especially susceptible to climate change.

Significance

Millets are smart food and good for consumers, farmers and planet multiple and has untapped uses such as food, feed, biofuels and brewing. Observation of Year of Millets will help to promote production and consumption of millets. It will inturn contribute in fight against targeted hunger and mitigate effect of climate change in long run. Popularizing millets will also benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers.

Millets

Millet is common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals. It mainly includes sorghum, ragi, pearl millet, small millet, proso millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet etc. They are adapted to harsh environment of semi-arid tropics. They require low or no purchased inputs, thus they are backbone for dry land agriculture.

Benefits of Millets

Nutritional Superiority: Millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fibre and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous. It provides nutritional security and act as shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.

Health Benefits: Pellagra (niacin deficiency), Anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets. It can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free and also have low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants.

Income and livelihood Source: Millets are important staple cereal crop for millions of small holder dryland farmers. They offer nutrition, resilience, income and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times. They have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing. Thus, millets are Smart Food as they are Good for the Farmer and Good for Planet.

Climate Change: Millets are photo-insensitive and resilient to climate change. They are hardy, resilient crops that have low carbon and water footprint. They can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs. In times of climate change they are often last crop standing and thus are good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers.

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Government notifies rules for unlocking Rs 66,000 crore compensatory afforestation funds

Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified rules for utilisation of more than Rs 66,000 crore afforestation funds by states/UTs and for setting up authorities to monitor its use for afforestation and conservation. The rules have been framed two years after Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 to this effect was enacted.

Key Facts

The fund is accumulated amount which user agencies have been depositing as compensation for diverting forest land for non-forest purposes such as setting up industries or creating infrastructure, over the past 10 years. Since rules for utilisation of fund have been notified, unspent amount will now be transferred to National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (NCAF) at Centre and respective State Compensatory Afforestation Funds in phased manner, depending on its utilisation. The national and state compensatory afforestation funds are both non-lapsable and have been established under Public Account of India and Public Account of each state. They can be utilised for only activities listed under the CAF Act.

Key Features of Rules

The rules specify that 80% of compensatory afforestation amount will be utilised by states for plantations, assisted natural regeneration of forests, pest and disease control in forest, forest fire prevention, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat, among other things from list of 13 permissible activities. The remaining 20% will be used for 11 listed works to strengthen infrastructure related forest and wildlife protection. The list includes third-party monitoring of works, development of certification standards, forest certification and casual hiring of local people to assist forest department staff. It also specifies that working plan will be taken up in consultation with the gram sabha or village forest management committee.

Background

Though Parliament had enacted Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 to utilise money, it could not be implemented in absence of enabling rules within Act for two years. As result, only Rs 14,418 crore out of Rs 80,716 crore were disbursed to states/UTs under temporary and time-consuming mechanism. The remaining Rs 66,298 crore therefore has been lying unspent with ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) created by Supreme Court order in 2009. Among states, Odisha has highest share (Rs 9,725 crore) in accumulated fund, followed by Chhattisgarh (Rs. 7,288 crore), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 6,353 crore) and Jharkhand (Rs 5,193 crore).

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