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Cut post-harvest losses, boost agri exports: Union Minister Shekhawat

Nov 17, 2017

 
Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said concerted efforts should be made by both the states and the Union Government to enhance agricultural exports from the country, as at present only 10 per cent of the agri produce is going out.
 
He made the observation here on Thursday at the APAgTech Summit 2017 on the second day. He asked agricultural scientists to develop better post-harvest technologies to reduce wastage and he promised full support to Andhra Pradesh to emerge as a leading horticulture hub.
 
He said AP ranked No. 1 in the country in the production of seafood, mangoes, turmeric, chilli and tomatoes and the State has a bright future ahead. Andhra is setting the example in leveraging modern technologies in agriculture under the leadership of Chandrababu Naidu.
 
India’s agriculture production is valued at Rs. 98,000 crore. As there is a huge wastage due to non-availability of post-harvest facilities, the primary sector is lagging behind, he added.
 
Focus on infra
 
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said the focus was on adopting both pre-harvest and post-harvest technologies and developing infrastructure to ensure better prices to farmers.
 
There was a session on Thursday on making use of big data analytics to transform agriculture in the country and to provide solutions to the problems faced by the small and marginal farmers in the state and the country. Experts stressed the need to build a reliable data base relating to agriculture, as at present archaic methods are being employed by the Government agencies to collect data. The private sector should also play a crucial role in taking the big data analytics to the field level and make it useful to the ordinary farmer at the village level.
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



New gene may halt worldwide wheat epidemic: Study

Nov 17, 2017

 
Researchers have identified a gene that can help fight a new devastating strain of a fungal disease that is now at the door of the Punjab region — the breadbasket of Asia.
 
The gene enables resistance to a strain of stem rust, a fungal disease that is hampering wheat production throughout Africa and Asia and threatening food security worldwide.
 
The finding by researchers at the University of California, Davis in the US will help breeders more quickly develop varieties that can fend off the deadly pathogens and halt a worldwide wheat epidemic.
 
Wheat and stem rust have been in an evolutionary arms race for more than 10,000 years, researchers said.
 
In the 1950s, a major epidemic of the disease spread through North America and destroyed up to 40 per cent of the wheat crop, the world’s second most important grain next to rice.
 
Since then, scientists have developed rust-resistant varieties to boost wheat’s immunity to stem rust. However, the pathogens are making a comeback.
 
Rapidly expanding
 
A new strain of the stem rust—called Ug99 after it was discovered in Uganda in 1999—is spreading throughout the region, researchers said.About 90 per cent of the wheat varieties grown worldwide are susceptible to Ug99, they said.
 
Ug99 has expanded to most of the wheat-growing regions in Africa and has crossed the Red Sea to Yemen and Iran,said Jorge Dubcovsky, a professor at UC Davis. Ug99 is now at the door of the Punjab region—the bread basket of Asia—and identification and deployment of effective resistance genes are critical to mitigate this threat, he said.
 
    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Government removes restrictions on export of all types of pulses

Nov 17, 2017

The government today removed export curbs on all varieties of pulses to ensure farmers get remunerative prices as domestic rates have crashed below MSP in view of record production. 
 
 
Pulses production in India, the world's largest producer and importer, touched an all-time high of 22.95 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June). Moreover, the country imported about 5 million tonnes pulses last fiscal, leading to huge availability in the domestic market and a price crash. 
 
The government is expecting bumper output even this year and it is also sitting on 1.8 million tonnes of buffer stock. The annual domestic demand is around 24 million tonnes. 
 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for removal of prohibition on export of all types of pulses to ensure that farmers have greater choice in marketing their produce and in getting better remuneration for their produce, an official statement said. 
 
The decision comes two months after the government lifted ban on export of tur, urad and moong dal, although shipments of these varieties were allowed only through permission from agriculture export promotion body APEDA. Exports of organic pulses and kabuli chana is permitted in a limited quantity. 
 
Briefing media, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, Opening of exports of all types of pulses will help the farmers dispose of their products at remunerative prices and encourage them to expand the area of sowing. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Moody’s rating upgrade spruces up India’s investment credentials

Nov 17, 2017

The sovereign rating upgrade by global agency Moody’s has put India alongside Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and the Philippines in terms of investment climate.  In effect, India has become the largest economy among Baa2-rated sovereigns, according to Moody’s.  
 
The agency today upgraded India’s sovereign credit rating by a notch to ‘Baa2’ with stable outlook after a gap of 13 years, saying reforms will foster sustainable growth.  Sovereign rating is issued to national governments and a barometer of the country’s investment climate.
 
 It gives investors insight into the level of risks, including political, associated with investing in a particular country.
According to Moody’s, Baa rating is medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk while the modifier 2 indicates a mid-range ranking.
 
 The government and some commentators in India have been pitching hard for a rating upgrade citing the country’s strong economic fundamentals, political stability and a slew of reforms.  Some of the key reforms that the Narendra Modi government has initiated include the Goods and Services Tax (GST), demonetisation, Aadhaar, bank recapitalisation, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and targeted delivery of benefits through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system, among others.
 
 
The other two leading global rating organisations such as Fitch and S&P have BBB- rating with a stable outlook. BBB- is just a notch above the junk grade and the lowest in investment ratings.  The upgrade signals increasing confidence in the Indian economy vis-a-vis China in the international market. 
 
 In September, S&P Global Ratings cut China’s long-term sovereign credit rating by one level to ‘A+’ from ‘AA-‘. Even Moody’s in May this year downgraded China to A1 from Aa3 and changed outlook to stable from negative.  After Moody’s action, India is now three notches away from China.
 
 With Baa2 and a stable outlook, India is behind only China in the BRICS bloc, Moody’s said, adding that India, China and South Africa are investment grade sovereigns in the grouping.
    
Source: Financial Express



Indian food services mkt to grow at 10%, reach Rs 5,52,000 crore by ’22

Nov 17, 2017

The food services sector has emerged a key segment in the Indian economy. The Indian food services market (which comprises both the organised and unorganised segment) is estimated to be worth Rs 3,37,500 crore in 2017, and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 per cent over the next five years to reach Rs 5,52,000 crore by 2022.
 
This was stated in a report titled Indian Food Services Industry: Engine for Economic Growth & Employment - A Roadmap for Unlocking Growth by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Technopak. It highlighted the overall potential of the food services industry in India and captured the emerging trends in the industry. 
 
The report was launched by Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), at Foodzania, the food service retail conclave organised by FICCI in New Delhi. Two mega-metros, Mumbai and Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), contribute to 22 per cent of the overall food services market, with both holding a share of 11 per cent each.
 
The share of the six mini-metros (Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata) in the food services market is 20 per cent. The Indian food industry is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year. In India, the food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry.
 
The food services sector was estimated to have generated direct employment for 5.5-6 million people in the financial year 2016, and this is expected to increase to 8.5-9 million by financial year 2021. Indirect employment has witnessed a CAGR of four per cent between 2013 and 2016, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of six per cent till 2021.
 
A high percentage of the working population is young and well travelled, has double incomes and is experimental, besides being tech savvy. They are eating out more than their predecessors, driving the growth of the food services market. The availability of organised retail spaces is helping in the consistent growth of Indian and international brands across different formats.
 
The impact of the market as a whole on the entire ecosystem, right from real estate to agriculture, kitchen equipment to supply chain and employment, is significant. However, certain challenges, such as the availability of quality manpower, a high attrition rate, the high real estate cost, the fragmented supply chain, overlicensing etc., act as headwind for the growth of the industry.
 
The Indian food services market space is attracting significant interest from domestic as well as international private equity and venture capital funds. The large number of investments can be attributed to the fact that the food services market is a domestic consumption-driven story with great growth potential. Some key trends, like virtual kitchens and ready-to-cook (RTC) players, are gaining traction in the Food Services space.
 
Ordering in has become an integral part of the eating experience, and several logistics players are providing last-mile delivery to restaurants. Thus, food services is emerging as a key contributor to the Indian economy, including employment generation, skill development, growth in the allied industries, entrepreneurship and tourism and creating experiences for the Indian consumer.
    
Source: FNB News



India, Singapore discuss ways to strengthen trade ties

Nov 17, 2017

India and Singapore today discussed ways and actions to elevate bilateral relationship to a strategic level, an official release said. 
 
The issues regarding strengthening the bilateral ties were discussed during a meeting between visiting Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 
 
 
Both the leaders recalled the shared history of the countries, rooted in strong commercial, culture and people- to-people links. 
 
They also discussed the meeting between the two Prime Ministers and elevation of India-Singapore Partnership to a strategic level and actions taken to translate their vision, the release said. 
 
They discussed at length the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax in India, bilateral trade and investment, and the road map for enhancing economic and commercial ties. 
 
Jaitley, on the last day of his two-day visit, also delivered a keynote address at Morgan Stanley 16th Annual Asia Pacific Summit on India: Structural Reforms and Growth Path Ahead. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Cabinet clears setting up of GST anti-profiteering authority

Nov 17, 2017

The Union Cabinet today approved setting up of a National Anti-profiteering Authority under the GST, as it seeks to ensure that consumers get the benefit of reduced prices under the new indirect tax regime. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said currently there are only 50 items which attract the highest tax of 28 per cent under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime and rates on many items have been cut to 5 per cent as well. 
 
The National Anti-Profiteering Authority is an assurance to consumers of India. If any consumer feels that the benefit of tax rate cut is not being passed on, then he can complaint to the authority, Prasad told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. This reflects government’s full commitment to take all possible steps to ensure benefits of implementation of GST to the common man, the minister said.
 
The approval by the Cabinet paves the way for immediate establishment of the apex body, which is mandated to ensure that the benefits of GST rate reduction is passed on to consumers. The GST Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister and comprising state counterparts, had last week decided to slash tax rates of over 200 items in the GST regime as well as lowered tax rates on AC and non-AC restaurants to 5 per cent. 
 
The Council had earlier approved setting up of a five- member National Anti—Profiteering Authority to enable consumers to file complaint in case price reduction is not passed on.  A five-member committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, comprising Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, CBEC Chairman Vanaja Sarna and chief secretaries from two states, has been entrusted to finalise the chairman and members of the authority.
 
 
The authority will have a sunset date of two years from the date on which the chairman assumes charge. The chairman and the four members of the authority have to be less than 62 years. As per the structure of the anti-profiteering mechanism in the GST regime, complaints of local nature will be first sent to the state-level ‘screening committee’, while those of national level will be marked for the ‘Standing Committee’. 
 
If the complaints have merit, the respective committees would refer the cases for further investigation to the Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS). The DG Safeguards would generally take about three months to complete the investigation and send the report to the anti-profiteering authority.
 
 
If the authority finds that a company has not passed on GST benefits, it will either direct the entity to pass on the benefits to consumers or if the beneficiary cannot be identified will ask the company to transfer the amount to the ‘consumer welfare fund’ within a specified timeline.
 
 The authority will have the power to cancel registration of any entity or business if it fails to pass on to consumers the benefit of lower taxes under the GST regime, but it would probably be the last step against any violator. According to the anti—profiteering rules, the authority will suggest return of the undue profit earned from not passing on the reduction in incidence of tax to consumers along with an 18 per cent interest, as also impose penalty.
    
Source: Financial Express



Afghanistan pushes business ties with India through trade fair

Nov 17, 2017

India’s economic reform agenda such as Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India, Stand-up India, Skill India, and Smart Cities is a constructive and productive initiative in creating trade links and opportunities in the country and across the globe. Keeping in view India’s focus in rebooting trade and commerce, Afghanistan has lot of opportunity to grab from the on-going India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. 
 
Evidently, this year the participation of afghan traders are doubled with 80 Afghan stalls as compared to 40 stalls last year and more importantly the Afghan women trader’s participation is increased by 18 stalls. This gives a positive ripple of hope in inspiring Afghan women’s economic empowerment role in mainstreaming capacity building for self-reliant and cadre of educated and developed nationality in Afghanistan. 
 
Afghan Ambassador to India, Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali inaugurated the Afghanistan pavilion at the event. Ambassador Abdali expressed his views and emphasized on the importance of such events which further cements trade links on international domain. He also stated that events like IIFT will promote Afghan exports to all over the world. 
 
Eighty stalls of Afghanistan pavilions are scintillating with the dry fruits, saffron, Afghan rugs, jewelleries as well as gems. Afghanistan’s dry fruits are acclaimed for its high quality and much in demand in India and attracts buyer from other countries as well. The quintessential Afghan carpets showcase the most exotic and distinctive designs of Afghanistan’s tradition. 
 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Suresh Prabhu sees economy touching $5 trillion in a few years

Nov 17, 2017

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu today exuded confidence that exports will gather momentum going forward as the economy is on course to double to $5 trillion and become the third largest in the world, over the next few years.
 
 Our economy shall grow from USD 2.5 trillion now to USD 5 trillion and it will become the third largest over the next few years. With such an economic growth, our international trade will also grow, Prabhu told World Trade Expo 2017 here in a video message.  Earlier this week, the American brokerage a Bank of America Merrill Lynch had said projected that India would overtake Japan to become the third largest economy in the world by 2028 as it expects the nominal GDP to clip at 10 per cent over the next one decade.
 
 The report noted that at USD 2.26 billion the country has already overtaken Brazil and Russia to emerge as the second largest BRIC economy after China and is well on track to cross France and Britain to emerge as the world’s fifth largest after Germany by 2019.
 
Last year the economy closed at USD 2.26 trillion. But the report did not quantify the size of the economy by 2028 when it would be the third largest after China and the US. At around USD 5 trillion, Japan is the third largest economy now. This expo is being held at a time when the economy is growing faster than before.
 
 I am sure this expo will help foreign countries understand India and its economy better in promoting trade,
 Prabhu said. His statement comes two days after his ministry said exports dipped 1.12 per cent to USD 23bn in October and trade deficit ballooned, retreating from a six-month high growth in September as shipments of textiles, pharma, leather and gems and jewellery fell.
    
Source: Financial Express



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