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Government revises up 2016-17 grain output to record 275.68 million ton

Aug 17, 2017

The government today revised upward the country's overall foodgrain production by 2.3 million tonnes to a record 275.68 million tonnes in 2016-17 crop year that ended in June. 
Record output has been achieved in rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses on the back of good rains in the said period.
Foodgrain production had declined to 251.57 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June). The previous record of 265.04 million tonnes was achieved in 2013-14 crop year. 
As a result of very good rainfall during monsoon 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by the government, the country has witnessed record foodgrain production in the current year, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. 
Based on the feedback of states, the ministry has revised the overall foodgrain output upward to 275.68 million tonnes in its fourth estimate assessed for 2016-17 from its earlier projection of 273.38 million tonnes for the same period. 
About 2.3 million tonnes of increase in foodgrain output has mainly come from record production in rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses, the latest data showed. 
Foodgrain basket comprise of rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses. These are grown in kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) season and already been harvested. 
As per the data, rice output is estimated to be a record 110.15 million tonnes in 2016-17 as against 104.41 million tonnes in the previous year. Previous record was 106.65 million tonnes in 2013-14. 
Wheat output is projected to have been a record 98.38 million tonnes in 2016-17 as against 92.29 million tonneslast year. The previous high was 95.85 million tonnes in 2013-14. 
Coarse cereals output is pegged at a record 44.19 million tonnes in 2016-17 against 38.52 million tonnes in 2015-16, while the previous record of 43.39 million tonnes was in 2013 -14. 
Among coarse cereals, maize output is record 26.26 million tonne in 2016-17. 
Pulses production is also projected to be a record 22.95 million tonnes in 2016-17 as against 16.35 million tonnes last year, but the previous high stood at 19.25 million tonnes in 2013-14. 
In pulses, tur and urad output is estimated to a record 4.78 million tonnes and 2.80 million tonnes, respectively, in 2016-17 crop year on account of better support price. 
Oilseeds output increased to 32.10 million tonnes in 2016 -17 from 25.25 million tonnes last year. 
Among cash crops, the ministry said, "Despite lower area coverage during 2016-17, higher productivity of cotton has resulted into higher production of 33.09 million bales (of 170 kg each), as compared to 30.01 million bales during 2015-16." 
However, sugarcane production is estimated to be lower by 11.98 per cent at 306.72 million tonnes in 2016-17 as against 348.45 million tonnes last year. 
Jute/mesta output is projected to be higher marginally at 10.60 million bales (of 180 kg each) as against 10.52 million bales in the said period. 
The government releases four estimates before releasing the final one at different stages of harvesting. At present, farmers are sowing the new crop, the first estimate of which will be released by year-end. 


Source: The Economic Times

Agri farmers have to link Aadhaar with bank a/c for crop loans in 2017-18

Aug 17, 2017

To ensure hassle-free benefits to farmers under Interest Subvention Scheme, the Reserve Bank of India has advised banks to make Aadhaar linkage mandatory for availing short-term crop loans up to ?3 lakh in 2017-18.
This move is in line with the government’s increasing emphasis on linking Aadhaar to various transactions in the economy including filing Income-Tax returns and getting direct benefit transfer.
In order to provide short-term crop loans to farmers at an interest rate of 7 per cent (the same as in the previous year) during the year 2017-18, the RBI said it has been decided to offer interest subvention of 2 per cent to lending institutions -- public sector banks, private sector commercial banks (in respect of loans given by their rural and semi-urban branches only) on use of their own resources.
This interest subvention of 2 per cent will be calculated on the crop loan amount from the date of its disbursement/ drawal up to the date of actual repayment of the crop loan by the farmer or up to the due date of the loan fixed by the banks whichever is earlier, subject to a maximum period of one year.
Further, farmers repaying in time will be provided an additional interest subvention of 3 per cent. What this means is that farmers paying promptly would get short term crop loans (for a maximum period of one year) at 4 per cent during the year 2017-18.
Source: The Hindu Businessline

Spices Board and J&K government to work for GI tag for Kashmir saffron

Aug 17, 2017

Spices Board has teamed up with the Jammu and Kashmir government to boost production and improve value addition of saffron for its consumption and trading in both domestic and international markets. 
The board and the state government are also making efforts to secure GI (geographical indication) registration for authentication of high quality saffron from Kashmir.
The issues regarding the saffron trade came up for thorough deliberations at a two-day national seminar on saffron in Srinagar recently. 
The Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs has initiated the development of Codex standard for saffron at its 3rd session held in Chennai in February 2017, Spices Board chairman A Jayathilak said. 
The saffron trade would get a fillip by addressing the issue of post-harvest management, especially for drying and storage, in order to retain the colour, aroma and flavour of the spice, he added. 
Spices Board is promoting the setting up of common mini-processing facilities and value addition units to improve the marketability of saffron in the saffron- growing areas by farmer groups. We have recently supported a producer group in Pampore by providing Rs 15 lakh as grant-in-aid towards 75 per cent of the cost of machinery and equipment for setting up of mini-processing and value addition unit, he said.
Formation of spices producers societies is being encouraged to boost aggregation of the produce, common processing, value addition, and direct marketing of the spice between growers and exporters, processors and institutional buyers. 
The Saffron Production and Export Development Agency (SPEDA), set up by the Spices Board with J&K government chief secretary and Union commerce secretary as co-chair, along with 17 members representing various stakeholders, has been pro-active in coordinating the programmes and projects for R&D, domestic marketing, quality, consumption, promotion and export of saffron. 
India is a leading producer of premium and finest quality saffron in the world and Kashmiri saffron has been a recipient of the Great Taste Award, the world’s most coveted award for artisan and specialty food producers. 


Source: The Economic Times

FSSAI proposes to prohibit use of GM techniques to produce animal meat

Aug 17, 2017

It issued a recent draft notification, titled Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2017, relating to meat and meat products, fish and fishery products, microbiological requirement for meat and extension of scope of proprietary food. 
In it, the apex food regulator also directed food business operators (FBOs) to refrain from slaughtering and processing animals for the production of meat of porcine (pig) origin at facilities where the slaughter and processing of other animals for the production of their meat takes place, and prohibited the use of cows or their progeny for the production of meat and/or bone meal, internal organs, blood meal and tissues of animals.
The notification also stated that it should be ensured that even imported meat products were compliant with all the regulations before they reached the market, and they should be checked and certified accordingly. 
Welcoming the move, Fauzan Alavi, general secretary, All India Meat and Livestock Exporters’ Association (AIMLEA), Mumbai, said, It is always welcome if such regulations come into force. Health and hygiene regulations will insure neater, cleaner and healthier meat for the customers, which is a very good thing.
And why only meat? Every food item available in market for consumption, be it milk, vegetables or street food, should be regulated in a uniform and professional manner. Health and hygiene should not be compromised, he added.
Alavi said, In fact, as vegetables and milk are daily consumables, we eat more vegetables than meat on a regular basis. So, it is my request to the government to first look into the various means used to adulterate them to earn higher profits.
As far as meat is concerned, it can only be either clean or unhealthy, so more stringent regulations are needed for other products than they are for meat, he added.
Meanwhile, the notification covered all kinds of meat and meat products, including pork, beef, chevon (goat meat), mutton (sheep meat), eggs and molluscs.
It included the definitions, scope, types, compositions, safety and hygiene requirements, shelf life, etc. of meat and meat products.
It also provided the composition and safety standards for various meat products, which regulate the moisture, protein and fat content in each product.
Composition and safety standards


Moisture (percentage)





Goat meat


Sheep meat


Poultry meat


Shelf life

FSSAI has also come up with standards for eggs. It has defined eggs as, “Eggs in shell — other than broken,incubated or cooked eggs. These include fresh in-shell eggs as laid by hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, Japanese quail, etc. The edible portion includes the egg yolk and egg white after the removal of the shell.”

Hygiene parameters for eggs
On the hygiene issue concerning the production of eggs, the notification stated, “The key aspects of the hygiene control system are temperature and time issues.” 
From the receipt of the eggs to their handling, sorting and grading, washing, drying, treatment, packing, storage and distribution to the point of consumption, consideration should be given to the time and temperature and humidity conditions for eggs, such that the growth of the pathogenic microorganisms will be minimised, and the safety and suitability of the eggs will not be adversely affected, it added.
In the fish meat segment, the notice has covered bivalve molluscs, sturgeon caviar, fish sauce, quick frozen fish sticks (fish fingers), fish portions, fish fillets and scallop meat.
It also stated the essential compositions, quality factors, defectives like foreign matter and bones, odours,  flavours, textures, colours, parasites, etc., and included the packaging and labelling norms.
Packaging and labelling
The notification stated that the products should comply with the packaging and labelling requirements as per the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, which should also be applicable to pre-packaged products.
Meat ban issue
The old days are coming back to the meat industry. Many people in the industry have opined that illegal slaughterhouses were slowly coming alive again, while the exports remained more or less the same as they were the previous year.
On the issue of the ban, Alavi stated, The cost of the product for export is low, and there is no profitability in the business in these conditions. 
The illegal slaughterhouses have started working again, in the similar conditions as they were before the ban. Although the exports are satisfactory, the condition in which they are taking place is a little tentative, he added.
There has been no increase in exports as such. However, a loss to the tune of Rs 500-600 crore was incurred following the meat ban and cow vigilante incidents, said Alavi.
States like Punjab, Telangana, Bihar and West Bengal are inviting slaughterhouses from Uttar Pradesh, but as of now, there are no visible migrations of slaughterhouses. The local markets are also doing brisk business, but the market rates are still quite high, he added.


Source: FNB News

Fall in exports of perishable goods prods govt to explore water transport

Aug 17, 2017

A slump in the export of perishable commodities such as fruits and vegetables due to high airfreight charges has prodded the government to explore the cost-effective alternative of water transport to boost the trade and give Indian products an edge over their competitors in the international market.
In order to fine-tune the export strategy, the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) has started experimenting with the transport of perishable commodities to different countries by low-cost shipments.
And it has succeeded in shipping 10 tonnes of bananas from Kochi to Dubai, which reduced transportation charges by a sixth as compared to airfreight.
We have started the new practice with bananas. Last week, we shipped 10 tonnes of bananas to Dubai in a controlled environment in a week's time. It cost the exporter just Rs 10 per kg while the airfreight would have been be Rs 60 per kg, Apeda Chairman D.K. Singh told agency.
We are also going to send one more consignment soon. We are trying to develop a sea protocol for shipping bananas. Once we establish it, the water transport mode will be introduced for other fruits and vegetables.
Incidentally, Apeda has been using water transport for export of non-perishable products such as basmati rice and processed items but it could not be used for perishable items due to their very short shelf-life.
Apeda funded the study by the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) to decide various aspects such as preserving the fruit in long-duration ship journeys in a controlled environment, in which specific temperature, humidity and pH level have to be maintained.
We also sent two of our scientists with the consignment to check the quality of bananas on their arrival in Dubai, Singh said.
In the first consignment, Apeda sent the Nendran variety that has a relatively good shelf-life.
Now, we are planning to export two different varieties as each variety requires a different set of controlled environment conditions. Subsequently, we will notify the standards for banana exports, Singh said.
Apeda is planning to focus on transporting mangoes and fresh vegetables using the water route once the banana plan is in place.
Apeda had tried to venture into water transport in the past but the plan could never take off.
According to the Apeda's export statement of principal products, export of fresh fruits went up in 2015-16 by almost 40 percent to 7,98,755 tonnes compared to the previous year. However, it went down by almost 80 percent to 1,65,103 in 2016-17.
Similarly, export of fresh vegetables saw a hike in 2015-16 by 94 percent to 36,31,973 tonnes compared to that in 2014-15 but it fell by 86 percent to 4,87,316 tonnes in 2016-17.
In 2017-18 (April- June), fruit export reached to 2,17,901 tonnes while fresh vegetable was pegged at 7,53,704 tonnes.
Source: SME Times

India-Sweden MoU on IPRs to benefit SMEs: Govt

Aug 17, 2017

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden that seeks to spread awareness about best practices in the field among small and medium enterprises (SMEs), stated an official release. 
The areas of cooperation under consideration include exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organisations and SMEs through participation in programs and events in the matter, organized singly or jointly by the parties, said the release. 
It added that the pact will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investors and businesses on both sides. The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about India's range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its-people, it said. 
It will be a landmark step forward in India's journey towards becoming a major player in global Innovation and will further the objectives of National IPR Policy, 2016, the release added.
The MoU establishes a wide ranging and flexible mechanism through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programs and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights. 
A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) with members from both sides will be formed to decide cooperation activities to be taken under the MoU. 
The areas of cooperation under consideration include exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries.
The JCC will also discuss issues like exchange of information and best practices regarding Intellectual Property law infringements in the digital environment, especially regarding Copyright issues. 
Source: SME Times

Government to aid mega food parks for two years

Aug 17, 2017

The Central government will support farmers and entrepreneurs who invest in mega food parks in Punjab for two years from the time their projects are launched. 
The farmers of Punjab must avail the maximum benefits from the Rs 6,000 crore allocated by the Prime Minister to boost the food processing industry, Union minister for food processing industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal told a gathering of farmers at a function in Amritsar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the ministry on Wednesday. 
The fund, to be used over the next three years, has been set up for mega parks, integrated cold chains and value addition infrastructure, creation and expansion of food processing and preservation capacities, infrastructure for agro processing clusters, creation of backward and forward linkages, food safety and quality assurance infrastructure and human resources and institutions.
The minister said the three mega food parks in Fazilka, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur are among the largest of the 42 food parks being set up in the country. 
These food parks will also lead to the creation of 5 lakh jobs and create opportunity to process Rs 1 lakh crore worth of farm produce. Punjab farmers must come forward and set up their food processing units at these food parks and avail the benefit of common infrastructure facilities like cold chain, warehouses, packaging, sorting and grading, all at one place, she said. 
Under the cluster food processing scheme of the Kisan Sampada Yojana, the ministry will provide subsidy of up to Rs 10 crore for setting up five food processing units in mini food parks, she said.
Under the backward-forward linkage scheme, subsidy up to a limit of Rs 5 crore will be given to modernise, upgrade and expand food processing units. Special focus will be on NGOs and cooperatives, she pointed out. 
The government has also allowed 100% foreign direct investment in food processing and in trading, including through ecommerce, of food products manufactured or produced in India. 
In the first two months of the year, $200 million worth of FDI has come into India. Countries like Japan want to fund inputs required by farmers to grow tomatoes over 1,000 acres of land. The world is looking towards India for partnership. The World Food India 2017 from November 3 to 5 in Delhi will see huge national and international participation, the minister said. 
Assured lifting and the option to sell farm produce to the industry offer great opportunities for farmers, the minister said. 


Source: The Economic Times

CBEC to build information repository on imports

Aug 17, 2017

Can a specific type of meat be exported to India? What procedures need to be followed? 
Global suppliers eyeing India's growing economy will soon be able to get such basic queries on exports answered through a single window, freeing them from the maze of multiple complex notifications scattered across various websites of ministries or departments that’s fiendishly difficult to access.
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is undertaking a mammoth exercise to build a central repository to provide a supplier all the information required about norms governing product imports in simple language. This will be available on one site or via a mobile app. “The idea is to make it simple for traders to access information,” a government official told ET. 
Any information about any regulation would be available at the click of mouse or a tap on the mobile. Though all the information is available, traders need to plough through various ministry and department websites to find it. The official said the effort would be to make regulations navigable and information readily available to traders. The difficulty in finding the information is also seen to be hindering ease of doing business. 
This exercise is also part of the government's effort at trade facilitation. CBEC has already launched a portal to allow importers and exporters to file a single form at ports for clearances from all government agencies including the Drug Controller General of India, Plant Quarantine and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. This programme has also allowed for risk based assessment at customs. India has adopted the National Action Plan for Trade Facilitation, which aims to roll out steps to make it easier to do business. 
India is ranked 133 in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking on the ‘trading across borders’ parameter because of paperwork taking too much time and high costs. Border compliance takes 311 hours compared with nine in high-income OECD countries. Documentation compliance takes 67 hours versus four hours. The government has identified ease of doing business as a key focus area to attract investment. 


Source: The Economic Times