Saturday, January 8, 2011

Circa 2001-2010:

The Lost Decade for Indian agriculture

If mere wishful thinking could have attained desired results, Indian agriculture would have been a different story altogether. The beginning of new millennium came with lots of promises and hopes for the agriculture sector. However, a decade down the line, hope has given way to despair; the only way a farmer can prosper is by selling off his land. For the Indian agriculture, the last decade has been a story of lost opportunities.

Y2K started with a great promise for the agriculture sector. Everyone agreed that agriculture was poised for a quantum leap and will provide the much needed impetus to the Indian economy propelling it into the big league. It was only a matter of time before the Indian farmers were happy and prosperous lot. When the first ever National Agriculture Policy was announced on 28th July, 2000, it sought to actualise the vast untapped growth potential of Indian agriculture, strengthen rural infrastructure to support faster agricultural development, promote value addition, accelerate the growth of agro business, create employment in rural areas, secure a fair standard of living for the farmers and agricultural workers and their families, discourage migration to urban areas and face the challenges arising out of economic liberalization and globalisation. Most importantly, over the next two decades, it aimed to attain a growth rate in excess of 4 percent per annum in the agriculture sector.

In the decade that followed, India witnessed more than 1, 00,000 farmer suicides. The first state where suicides were reported was Maharashtra. Soon newspapers began to report similar occurrences from Andhra Pradesh. In the beginning, it was believed that most of the suicides were happening among the cotton growers, especially those from Vidarbha. A look at the figures given out by the State Crime Records Bureau, however, was sufficient to indicate that not just the cotton farmer, but farmers as a professional category were suffering, irrespective of their holding size. Moreover, farmers not only from Vidarbha, but also from the entire Maharashtra showed a significantly high suicide rate. The government appointed a number of inquiries to look into the causes of farmers’ suicide and farm related distress in general. Subsequently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Vidarbha and promised a package of Rs.110 billion (about $2.4 billion) to be spent by the government in Vidarbha. The families of farmers who had committed suicide were also offered an ex gratia grant to the tune of Rs.100,000 (about $2,000) by the government. The relief measures announced, obviously, had no desired effect as reports of suicides continue to pour in unabated from these belts even after the implementation of the debt relief package. This is largely because private moneylenders, who supplement the loans of even those farmers who are covered under the institutional credit system, have continued to harass them for the settlement of their dues. What farmers need for their survival is income, and not so much debt relief; in other words, the country needs agricultural renewal and productivity improvement.

It is not to suggest that, on its part, the government did nothing to change the situation in the agriculture sector. The center government has been proactive in taking many pro-farmer steps, especially in terms of increasing credit availability to the agriculture sector. The credit flow to agriculture sector has more than tripled in the previous decade. In 2008, the government waived off more than Rs. 72,000 crore worth of farm loans. The loan waiver was India’s largest-ever single-shot income transfer scheme, estimated to have helped some 36 million farmers nationwide. It included a full waiver of outstanding loans for small farmers—who cultivate up to 2 ha —while medium and large farmers got a quarter of their outstanding loans waived on an agreement to pay the rest. The scheme was seen as a contributing factor in the UPA’s re-election a year later.

Over the decade, successive governments have made incremental investments in agriculture, but the proportionate results have not translated in the same magnitude. Agriculture sector has been squarely blamed for the slow economic growth of the country by one and all involved in the policy making and planning process. More and more funds are flown to the agriculture sector through mega projects like RKVY, NHM, loan waiver scheme, etc. but the real spurt is still to be felt, out of the investment. Purely in terms of availability of money, the agriculture sector is prospering like never before.

However, despite this, the overall agriculture picture looks gloomy . The last decade has seen Indian economy being propelled into the big league, minus the vital element that had been the driving force all these years - the agriculture sector. In fact, the contribution of agriculture sector to Indian economy has gone down to less than 15 percent and if the current trend continues, it may nosedive to single digit in the next few years.

The most noticeable reason for the present status of the agriculture sector has been the failure of the public sector to offer anything substantial to the farming community. Apart from Pusa Basmati, the entire National Agriculture Research System is yet to come out with any substantial research breakthrough in any of the field crops. The most glaring failure has been in the field of pulses and oilseeds. We continue to remain the world’s largest importer of both. Similarly, we have also missed the opportunity for growth in coarse cereals.

The much sought after target of 4 per cent growth in agriculture can only be ensured by bringing the non conventional areas into the mainstream and making them perform on par with their predecessors, Punjab & Haryana, the areas of green revolution, which have gone almost stagnant. Like in other sectors, Gujarat has shown the way how this illusive growth rate can be attained in the agriculture sector as well. Agriculture sector in Gujarat performed at more than 10 per cent since the last few years, and even the compounded growth rate for the previous decade is more than 10 percent. This growth rate has been achieved by increasing the irrigation coverage through the utilization of Narmada waters. Apart from this, the state has had a specific plan of action for all crops and regions and saw to it that there was effective implementation of the same. Another important feature of the agriculture revolution in Gujarat has been the involvement of both public and private sector in the process. As we have often mentioned in the past, the next big fillip to Indian agriculture can come only by utilizing the untapped potential in the eastern Gangetic plains. The productivity levels in these regions are abysmally low despite abundance of ground water, fertile soil, and favorable climate. However, the socio-political conditions in the region have prevented the agricultural growth in this region. Thankfully, the new decade starts on a positive note with at least one state, i.e., Bihar seemingly poised for a spectacular growth.

Bt cotton- Single success story of Indian agriculture

Doubtlessly, Bt cotton has emerged to be the biggest success story of Indian agriculture in the previous decade. Despite the controversy surrounding it, the area under Bt cotton in India has jumped from a little over 40000 ha in 2002-03 to more than 8 million ha in 2009-10, constituting almost 90 percent of the area under cotton in India. In the process, the cotton production in India, which was hovering around 160 lakh bales, has more than doubled and has breached the 350 lakh bales mark. Incidentally, India has the world’s largest area under Bt cotton. Although, it has been unfairly blamed for farmers’ suicides, its success is evident from its large scale adoption by the farmers. What is most remarkable about this success story is the fact that it has come entirely on account of private sector initiative. The public sector has played no role at all, either in research or in extension. Besides negative publicity, it has had to battle court cases along its journey. Besides high yields arising on account of Bt’s resistance to the dreaded American Boll Worm, its growth has also been helped by high cotton prices in the international market. Although, Monsanto may not admit it, Bt cotton got a real fillip when the AP government forced Bt cotton to slash seed prices and make it more affordable.

However, despite the success of Bt cotton, we have nothing else to offer to the Indian farmers. The development of drought resistance crops, salinity tolerant crops, and crops high in desired nutrients still remain a paper dream, and we have been left debating the pros and cons of Bt brinjal.

Private participation, on a rise…

One of the important features of the National Agriculture Policy 2000 has been its emphasis on public private partnership. For reasons unknown, the ICAR and SAU’s have been shying away from involving private sector in the development process. In fact, a deliberate impression is created that the public sector is the only benefactor of Indian farmers and the private sector is out to loot the farmers. Despite all these hindrances, the private sector has beaten the public sector in almost all vegetable crops and coarse cereals. It is only rice and wheat where the public sector still enjoys an edge.

Global Warming

Since the last few years, we are repetitively witnessing instances of flood and drought in one or other parts of the country. The phenomenon of climate change has affected the hydrological cycle to a larger extent and, thus, the crop season is almost getting shifted in the view of non uniform temporal and spatial distribution of monsoon rains. Unseasonal rains in the rainfed areas and deficient rains in the once water sufficient areas are causing a lot of damages to the crop production and shifting the cropping pattern in the regions. Recent rains in the month of November- December, 2010, in the western, southern, and central parts caused havoc and losses reported in many of the crops, which resulted in the added food inflation and rise of the prices of onions and grapes in the market.

It is estimated by many of the agencies that India would face considerable yield losses in rice and wheat alongwith a fall in the growth rate of GDP owing to climate change. Increased occurrence of extreme events, such as cyclones, tsunamis, recurrent droughts and unseasonal rains, etc., due to climate change, will mostly affect the farming community of the nation.

The Centre has allocated Rs.350 crore for implementation of a new planned scheme ‘National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture’ to address the impact of climate change on agriculture and allied sectors. Of this, Rs.200 crore will be spent during 2010-11 and Rs.150 crore in 2011-12 in research infrastructure, capacity building, and on-farm demonstration of technologies. Much has been talked and discussed at different fora about the climate resilience and global warming, but the ultimate output is far from satisfactory.

Mounting labour crisis

One of the inbuilt strengths of Indian agriculture was the cheap and abundant availability of farm labor. However, in the last decade, labour crisis has become acute with the operation of NREGS. With this scheme ensuring that the rural unemployed youth and adults get a satisfactory minimum wage, nobody would like to get involved in farm activities, which has gone more risky, with the wrath of climate change and unaffordable in the view of rising input costs.

Mechanization is the way out, talked much by the authorities to overcome the scarcity of labours in farming activities and economizing the agronomic practices. But with the initial cost and its further maintenance playing spoilsport , the solution is custom hiring of the machineries and equipments and promoting the co-operatives for the areas of woes. The need for developing farm machinery suited to small holdings and making them affordable to farmers is being talked about for the last three decades without any real solutions.

One of the important reasons for the failure of the agriculture sector to perform to its potential in the last decade has been the decline in the quality of human resource with the public sector. It is open secret that all the important posts in the ICAR and SAU’s are filled through political and other lobbying and the factors other than professional merit have a greater role in selecting or rejecting a particular candidate for the particular post. There have been allegations of corruption against many a Vice-Chancellors and more often than not, the matters have reached courts. Thus, the focus on the work that these people are supposed to perform is often lost. The trend had started when Dr. R S Paroda was forced to resign as Director-General of ICAR by leveling false accusations. A decade later, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Apart from politicians, even the corporate world is said to be influencing the selection process.

Horticulture & Food Processing- scaling newer heights

The only positive story of the previous decade has come from the horticulture sector. India has seen spurts in Horticulture sector, from doubling of fruits and vegetables production to increasing the area under floriculture, which was backed on private participation, technology interventions, and supportive policies of the government, and less risky and sure returns. The sector has witnessed an upsurge in the production scenario, particularly of the fruits and vegetables. During 1991, India was stranded at the production figure of 56,000 MT, which made a significant jump to 126,000 MT in 2008 for the vegetables, which even aims to touch the levels of 150,000 MT by 2015. The same kind of trend have been witnessed in the fruits production, with an output of 28,600 MT during 1991 that has reached 63,500 MT. The projected production of horticultural crops during 2009-10 has gone up to 226.87 million tonnes. It includes 73.53 million tonnes of fruits and 136.19 million tonnes of vegetables from an area of about 21 million hectares. The growth rate in horticulture production between 2004-05 and 2008-09 has been to the tune of 7.2 per cent.

Even after the amendments in the APMC act and the adoption of the Model act by many of the states, the problem of middlemen and hoarding still exists. However, amidst the problems, many initiatives like ‘Safal market’ at Bangalore, TNAU precision farming project, and some of the private sector and local small entrepreneurs venturing the scene prove to be a silver lining. Three terminal markets have been approved by the government, among them, the one at Patna would start functioning from this year itself and the other two at Maharasthra and Orissa would be operationised soon. But these efforts need to be replicated on a larger scale at pan India diasporas.

Plantation sector remains almost stagnant over the decade because of ageing and senile plantations, weather fluctuations, and not so remunerative prices, which are highly dependent on the market forces and ruled by International ups and downs/ scenario. Although the government has announced and implemented many policies and relief packages, the breakthrough is still to revolutionize the segment, unlike other sub-sectors of horticulture.

India is a large, low-cost producer of fruits and vegetables, and horticulture is a sector with huge export potential. But, high transportation costs, inadequate storage facilities, a fragmented supply chain, and weak quality standards at home are eroding its competitiveness.

Today, Horticulture has become one of the most profitable ventures among the farm activities. I It has transformed itself from conventional horticulture to a Hi-tech horticultural business, backed with public support, ensured economic returns, hi-tech interventions like polyhouse and micro irrigation technology.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Food security to be this decade's biggest worry

A few days ago, Amul raised the price of milk - for the third time in a year. Anyone who is betting that the gains in food prices will fade with time needs to get ready to put the loser's share of money on the table. Runaway food prices are here to stay and taming that will need far greater structural changes than temporary clampdowns on hoarding and exports. If the last decade was about India's [ Images ] economic growth, food security is what we should worry about this decade.

As the economy expands, India's hungry mouths are going to open wider and want more variety and quantity of food. The growth in population and incomes will mean that as we munch our agricultural production, we will also be forced, increasingly, to use our stock of greenbacks to buy food in the international marketplace. Our enormous consumption will do to food prices what China's lightning-paced build-up has done to commodity prices - push them on a one-way street, up north.

Anyone can see this coming, but India's complacency is somewhat comical. In many ways, the government may have aided the food predicament without realising how great a role it has played in shaping it. Its zeal in implementing the rural employment guarantee plan and other social sector schemes has put money into the hands of thousands who previously had frugal access to food, if at all.

Getting food to all is most certainly a good thing especially when you consider how an economy growing at almost 9 per cent annually still needs to have a plan in place for such a fundamental right. So while we've earned big brownie points on that score, we lose heavily on how poorly we have anticipated our food needs.

Agriculture accounts for only about 15 per cent of our gross domestic product, and our crop yields are still low. The World Bank estimates that rice yields in India are a third of China, and half of Vietnam. Given that all countries have a finite amount of natural resources available to them, the only option is to vastly step up investment in improving agricultural productivity per hectare. The government, however, over the years seems to have focussed quite heavily on providing subsidies to the sector.

Subsidies, while politically popular and sometimes necessary, eventually rob us of greater efficiency, because they makes us lazy towards cost effective innovation. Agriculture has lagged when it comes to better seeds, technology and improved farming practices. Weather patterns world over are getting harder to predict and our own hapless dependence on Mr Monsoon has already taught us that we will have to be in a constant state of preparedness for bailouts and imports, as we haven't developed a dependable irrigation system as a substitute. Our troubles don't quite end there. We already know of wheat rotting for lack of storage and onions getting soaked in unseasonal rain.

Much as we may claim buffer stocks, rotting food reserves are as much use to us as baby clothes to a teenager. It's time we took storage and distribution out of government hands and gave it to the private sector to do it effectively, with pay-outs and penalties for targets met and slipped, so it remains efficient and without leakages.

As urbanisation and industrial projects compete for land, some agricultural land will no doubt be swallowed up.

Farmers have been arguing that the increase in basic minimum wage as a result of the employment guarantee program has made labour scarce and expensive, making farming less lucrative.

Add all of this up, and ensuring food security looks like the biggest challenge India's likely to battle. To depend increasingly on external markets to rescue us, while dragging our feet on improvements at home, will likely end in tears, not just over onions but in wasted greenbacks as well.

Anjana Menon is executive editor, NDTV Profit. Views expressed here are personal.

Monday, January 3, 2011

AgriUpdate 2010, the year that was....

Ayyappan got the reign of ICAR (1 January, 2010)

Dr S. Ayyappan, the most coveted authority on Fisheries sector and the former Deputy Director General (Fisheries) for a long duration has been crowned with Director General of ICAR & Secretary, DARE. He has followed the designated post after Mangala Rai retires on December last year.

Bt Brinjal halted by Jairam

Year 2010 witnessed, strong comeback story of Bt, with Environment Minister Sh. Jairam Ramesh putting an indefinite moratorium on the release of Bt Brinjal, in view of lack of consensus among the farm fraternity and non-readiness of general public for the acceptance of Bt Brinjal and their apprehensions about multitude of issues involving health risks and environmental threats. The not much sought decision came after conducting public consultation and debate among the stakeholders in 5 cities of country (9 February, 2010). Whole episode and month long hearing seen large amount of hues&cries and confrontations among supporters and the anti-groups, and even the ministries, particularly the Environment&Forest, Agri and Science&Tech drawing flaks on one-another, which surely become a good reason for TRPs to the electronic media and meaty material for the print media, which the farm sector was derided since a long.

PK Basu takes charge as Agriculture Secretary to the GOI

Prabeer Kumar Basu, has taken charge as Secretary, Agriculture & Cooperation on 2nd March, 2010. He replaces Shri T. Nanda Kumar who retired from service on February 28, 2010 on superannuation. Mr. Basu is 1976 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre. He served in various capacities in the Government of Bihar during his tenure, particularly in Finance, Industries, Agriculture & Cooperation and Energy. He was appointed Additional Secretary in the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation from March, 2007 to November, 2009 before being elevated as Special Secretary in the Ministry from November, 2009.

Agriculture loans exceed target by 13% in FY10

Agricultural credit flow by cooperative and public sector banks exceeded the target by 13 per cent in 2009-10. The flow of credit to the agriculture sector increased significantly and banks have surpassed the target by extending Rs 3,67,000 crore worth of loan to farmers. The farm credit was extended to as many as 4.82 crore farmers last year and banks gave crop loan to 91 lakh new farmers. According to official data, public sector banks lent Rs 2,75,000 crore of farm credit, while co-operative and RRBs loaned Rs 58,000 crore and Rs 34,000 crore respectively.

Land acquisition in a trouble

Land acquisition has never been in such controversy in the country, as in the recent years, which even forced the giant corporate houses like, TATA, Vedanta and POSCO to rollback their projects. It has also witnessed the adamant approach of Environment&Forest ministry joining the anti-groups of NGOs.

Rohtas Mal appointed as President – TMA

Mr. Rohtash Mal, ED&CEO, Agri Machinery Group, Escorts Ltd., has been appointed President of the Tractor Manufacturer Association (TMA) for 2010-2011. Mr. Mal succeeds Mr. Anjanikumar Choudhari, President-Mahindra. Mr. Mal graduated from the IIT, Delhi, and is an alumnus of IIM-Calcutta. Before joining Escorts Agri Machinery Group in 2007, he worked with the Bharti Group for over six years and for two years as the CEO of their agri-business.

Photosynthesis is now possible in petri dish too

In a major breakthrough, team of scientists at University of Cincinnati, Ohio has produced sugar from solar energy, using plant, bacterial, frog and fungal enzymes. They have focused on making an artificial photosynthetic material, which uses plant, frog, fungal enzymes and bacteria, trapped within a foam housing, to make sugar from sunlight and carbon dioxide. This technology establishes an economical way of harnessing the physiology of living systems by creating a new generation of functional materials that intrinsically incorporates life processes into its structure. These revolutionary findings about this latest photosynthetic technique have been published in the Nano Letters Journal.

Pawar’s power play

Sharad Pawar, the not so pleased minister with his current portfolio issues such unwarranted statements that ire the senses of common man and in cases, judiciary’s too. Either in the times of drought, flood, food inflation, Bt Brinjal moratorium, grains rotting or, farmers’ suicide, he looked much helpless. In a bizarre move he has been elected as the ICC chief, please do not confuse it with any agriculture or, farmers’ organization; it is World cricket governing body, International Cricket Council. But, here the million dollar question is, what an acting agri minister doing in the cricket pitch, when reform on many of the fronts in the farm sector is still in wait of its field day, taking a huge toll on the food production and the farmers’ very livelihood.

Nutrient based Fertilizer Subsidy implemented

After a great lull and long time demand from the Fertiliser Industry, Government has implemented the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) regime. The move is well considered to be in the direction of promoting the need based fertilizer application, streamlining the availability, regulating the prices and dumping of chemicals as witnessed across many of the irrigated rice bowls of India. The NBS regime was implemented with effect from 1st April, 2010.

Normal monsoon recorded in 2010

A good well spread monsoon across India, except Eastern parts has excited farmers, policy makers and other stakeholders for a buoyant economy.

IARI fee hike episode

In an uncalled for dramatic event, India’s premier Agricultural School, IARI & other Deemed Institutes under ICAR proposed almost 900% (more than 12 times) fee hike (from Rs 6,000 to 67,000 per semester) in their tuition fee, which came as surprise to all. But, at last ICAR pacified and latter rolled back the unprecedented hike after students gone for strikes and no work motion for continuous 3 days.

Rasi started exclusive Hybrid Vegetables Division ‘HyVeg’

Rasi Seed, one of the biggest cotton seed producers has made a foray into hybrid vegetables, with the Seminis man and well known authority in Indian Vegetable Seeds sector, Dr Arvind Kapur joining his team as CEO of the Hybrid Division and its corporate office is based at Gurgaon.

Amarjit Singh Nanda joins as Animal Husbandry Commissioner to GOI

Dr Amarjit Singh Nanda, director of research, GADVASU, Ludhiana, has joined as animal husbandry commissioner of India, the highest post in the field of animal production and health in India. Dr Amarjit Singh Nanda, director of research, GADVASU, Ludhiana, has joined as animal husbandry commissioner of India, the highest post in the field of animal production and health in India.

Anjani Kumar Chaudhary quits M&M

After a tenure spanning a decade at the Mahindra Group, the last five of which were spent leading the Farm Equipment Sector as President, Mr. Anjanikumar Choudhari retired from his role on March 31, 2010. Dr. Pawan Goenka, President - Automotive Sector, assumed the additional responsibility of the Farm Equipment Sector, and re-designated as the President - Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors with effect from April 1, 2010.

NMMI launched

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the implementation of the existing Micro Irrigation Scheme (MIS) as the National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI) during the 11th Plan period with an outlay of Rs.8032.90 crore, of which Rs.3409.26 crore will be contributed by the Central government, comprising 40% subsidy for general farmers and 50% subsidy for small and marginal farmers. This Mission will result in 2.85 million hectare to be brought under micro irrigation; savings in use of irrigation water, fertilizer and electricity; increase in production and productivity of crops.

IVRI awarded best SAU award

Among the State Agricultural Universities and Deemed Universities, the Best Institution Award for 2010 has gone to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar. The major accomplishments of the IVRI include recognition of High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL), Bhopal, as OIE approved reference laboratory, seventh in the world, for highly pathogenic avian influenza diagnosis. The awards were given on the ICAR Foundation day celebrated every year on 16th July.

Drought haunts eastern India

Severe monsoon failure in the Eastern parts of the country hit the agricultural production in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. This caused a state of dilemma for the region’s farmers, as till recently these parts is known to receive more than sufficient rainfall and promises to be the seat of the 2nd Green revolution, which is blessed with highly fertile alluvium soil of Gangetic belt and enough surface irrigation resources.

Escorts win Indian Tractor Industry’s largest order

India’s leading tractor manufacturer, Escorts Ltd., set a new benchmark by winning Indian tractor Industry’s largest ever deal for tractors, valued at Rs 185 cr. by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. Escorts has been chosen to supply 1430 units of its premium range of powerful ‘Farmtrac’ tractors to Tanzania which is implementing a national ‘Food Sufficiency Programme’ aimed at making it a food surplus country.

Moderate hike for Wheat MSP, as Pulses get more

GOI, on the recommendation of CACP revised the MSP for wheat, rice and pulses. There was a marginal hike of Rs 20 a quintal in the support price of wheat to Rs 1,120, but the prices of masoor and gram dals have been raised sharply by up to Rs 380 a quintal to encourage farmers to grow more. There is also an increase in mustard MSP by Rs 20 to Rs 1,850 per quintal. Safflower MSP has gone up to Rs 1,800 from Rs 1680 a quintal. Barley MSP has been increased to Rs 780 from Rs 750 per quintal.

Food rotting reported all over

Thousands of tonnes of foodgrain found rotting in the FCI godowns across the country due to apathetic

attitude of the concerned authorities and lack of storage space. Even the SC has lambasted the Food &

Civil Supply ministry over the issue and asked the Ministry to freely distribute the foodgrains lying outside the godowns but Agri ministry, Govt and PM refuted for the same.

M&M institutes Agriculture Awards

Mahindra & Mahindra, the largest tractor manufacturer and supplier has started the Samriddhi Awards for honouring the Indian farmers. The awards would be given under six categories to farmers, agro-entrepreneurs an agro based industries for delivering farm prosperity through their involvement in various links of agri value chain which help the farmers to maximize the value they create.

Borloug Institute to be established in Bihar

After ICRISAT another International Institute got a place over the Indian map, with the proposal of establishment of Norman Borloug Institute at PUSA, Bihar. The state is now in a mood of jubilation on announcement of establishment of the new internationally acclaimed institute known as the Borlaug International Institute which is famous for its study of Green Revolution and its after-effects. This Institute will function under a determined quality staff from Mexico.

Controversies hover over Seed Bill

Seed Bill caught into controversy over issues of mandatory registration of varieties which was previously voluntary, GM crops regulation, compensation mechanism and more stakes for private sector at the cost of farmers. Many states are demanding for the inclusion of price control mechanism in the proposed bill.

Food Security Act; still a farsighted dream

Food Security Bill caught into hold due to various reasons of faulty enumeration in BPL families and planning commission’s reluctance to budge over giving it a green card. It is speculated by most of the people and policy makers that UPA-2 is knowingly delaying it, to use its credit for incumbent govt. on election time to reap over the benefits of the same, alike MNREGA and loan waiver, which become the lifeline for the UPA-2.

NBRAI all set to get a nod from Govt

The much-awaited National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill (NBRA Bill) could not make it to the parliament for its final nod this time too, as the parliament ended its winter session without passing a Bill. NBRAI was much talked mainly due to the Bt Brinjal episode involving infighting between different ministries with their differing views and agendas over the same.

ASRB goes pre and mains

Year 2010 seen much awaited reforms in the recruitment process of Agricultural scientists, as the pattern of selection from a single exam has moved to 2 stages, with ASRB conducting first pre and only the qualified candidates sitting for mains. Ultimately, the interview assures the final candidature of the aspiring farm scientists, which in turn of results gets recommended to be inducted into the prestigious services.

NDRI cloned male buffalo calf “Shresth”

National Dairy Research Institute, NDRI, Karnal has achieved yet another feat by successfully cloning a male buffalo calf named ‘Shresth’. Scientists of N.D.R.I Karnal made this achievement during early hours today through the new and advanced ‘Hand-guided Cloning Technique’. The hand-guided cloning technique developed at NDRI, is an advanced modification of the “Conventional Cloning Technique”. Earlier the NDRI has produced the world’s first cloned buffalo calf on 6th February, 2009 followed by second on June 6, 2009 and third on August 22, 2010.

RBI divested its 50 % share in NABARD

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on October 30, 2010 divested its 71.5% stake in National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), to the government, bringing down its holding in the bank to 1%. The stake transfer has been valued at Rs 1,430 crore. Following this, the government stake in the development financial institution has gone up to 99%. The move is in line with the Indian central bank’s strategy to bring down its holding in the development finance institutions and pass on the majority control to the government.

India explores Chinese way of storing grains

In the view of growing resentment among the masses and the apex court from the reports of spoilage and wastage of lakhs of tonnes of food grains in FCI godowns across the country, Ministry of Food Distribution and Civil supplies gone into the serious action mode and decided to expand the existing capacity of available storage spaces with the procurement agencies. Regarding the same, Minister of State for Agriculture, Food distribution and Civil Supplies, Prof. Thomas and other concerned authorities made a quick trip to China to learn the expertise on modern grain storage techniques from the neighbouring country.

Kapil Mehan joins Coromandal Int’l

Coromandel International has appointed Mr Kapil Mehan, Tata Chemicals former executive director, as the managing director of the firm on 19th October, 2010. Mr Mehan would replace Mr V Ravichandran, who resigned. Mr. Mehan joined Coromandel as Chief Executive Officer on September 20, 2010. Earlier in 2003, he has worked as Chief Operating Officer of Coromandel's fertiliser business. He is a graduate in Veterinary Science from PAU, Ludhiana and also holds postgraduate diploma in management from IIMA.

Natural Rubber prices to remain tight in 2011

Increasing demand from rubber manufacturers coupled with stagnant production could lead to a shortage of upto 5 lakh tonnes in the country in the next 5 years time. Country’s rubber supplies peak October-January, but this year unseasonal rains have been hindering tapping. India, world 4th largest producer is likely to produce around 8, 50,000 tonnes of natural rubber in 2010-11, down 4.8% from the earlier estimate of 8, 93,000 tonnes, after heavy unseasonal rains affected tapping. So, in the view of increasing demand and unfavoured production conditions, the global prices are bound to fly the sky.

4th Indian Horticulture Congress concluded

Under the leadership of Dr KL Chadha, Horticultural Society of India (HIS) in association with Skill Foundation of India (SFI) organised 4 day long International Horticultural Congress at New Delhi. The event also witnessed a Horticulture Expo with the presence from many of the stakeholders from both the public and private sectors.

Harder days ahead for MFIs

After much hype and hoopla, Micro Finance sector reached to its low with much of the revelations about the operations and fraudulent dealings with naïve small and marginal famers, particularly the women. To regulate the same, first time in the country, Andhra Pradesh has come up with a bill to monitor the Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) which are under scanner for allegedly imposing exorbitant interest rates and coercive loan recovery methods. The legislation, if passed without any amendments, would spell doom for the microfinance industry.

Unseasonal rains caused havoc

The untimely rains in November-December months have affected crops and livelihood in the entire central, southern and western parts of the country. Though, no estimated data has been released by the state governments, losses worth many crores have incurred due to the unseasonal deluge. These rains have just shot up the prices of many of the commodities in the market. The worst affected crops are paddy, onion and grapes.

US bullying India

US pressing India hard on the wide ranging issues of FDI investment and opening the Indian market for the MNCs and US based companies, Monsanto and Wallmart. Since the Diwali time visit of the US Head Barack Obama, States officials have issued many of the contradictory statements, including hitting of the Indo-US relations and Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture (KIA), which has fruited least to the benefit of both the nations even after its much talked launch and aspirations out of that.

Dow Agro Chemicals facing ban

Dow Agro Sciences India Ltd. faces ban on purchasing of chemicals in India, following its persistent refusal to respond to show-cause notices over charges of bribery. CBI had recommended for blacklisting the firm as it was found guilty of bribing government official for pushing three substandard pesticides.

International Parthenium Congress 2010

3rd International Parthenium Congress held on December 8 – 10, 2010 at New Delhi under the patronship of Dr RS Paroda and Dr. M. Mahadevappa. This year’s conference theme was “Integrated Management of Parthenium linked hazards to plant, human and animal health for sustainable Biodiversity”, as the weed has attained a national status in several countries including India.

Jairam’s Climate change(d) stand

Today, as everyone is facing the brunt of the climate change and India is one among the victim of the naturally happening man-made catastrophe. But as per the earlier policy of GOI and Environment ministry, the view of India was to go for emission cuts purely on voluntary basis, rather than the changed view of Mr Ramesh, on the basis of growth equity and in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities in their respective capabilities. The stand is clear deviation from earlier ones and no binding clause, so, astonishing everyone for the same and ask for Environ Minister come clear on the same from the Cancun. Developed nations have already caused much harm to the fragile environment but always blaming the underdeveloped economies for all the global woes. But due to widespread pressure from the league of developed economies, the policy seems to have change its course.

UP mega Food Scam

In the season of scams, another mega scam joins the league with the amount exceeding Rs 25,000 crores in many of the districts of Uttar Pradesh. CBI, the investigating agency in the case is expected to register more than 5,000 FIRs across the state, wherein lakhs of tonnes of food grains means to be distributed for BPL and economically weaker section of the society siphoned to other states and even to the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Sanjaya Rajaram awarded with 5th Dr. MS Swaminathan award

Dr Sanjay Rajaram, the renowned Wheat Breeder and World Food Prize laureate has been bestowed with 5th Dr MS Swaminathan Award. He is currently heading the wheat improvement programme of CIMMYT, Mexico after the demise of Dr Borloug. He is involved in the development of more than 450 wheat varieties at CIMMYT during his three decade old association with the premier institute. Earlier the award has been given to likes of Norman E. Borloug, GS Khush, SK Vasal and Rattan Lall for their unmatched service to the farmers and agriculture at global level.

Onion does it again

The powerful Onion is again back in news, with its skyrocketing retail prices, in the view of heavy losses incurred mainly due to the untimed rains in western and southern parts of India (including in regions of Nashik, Pune and Gujarat, the main onion producing and exporting centres). But the noxious role of arthiyas and other middlemen are also to be blamed for the same. Government forced to ban the exports and import Onions from Pakistan to check the prices and it was under control within two weeks but still it is unaffordable for many, as it is touching Rs 50 per kg.

Cotton; export check in the times of bumper harvest

Even as country is heading towards record cotton production this year over a good monsoon. The govt., agri and commerce ministry is still to solve the riddle of surplus production and its utilization/ trade. Most of the farm commodities are stored in open, they are found to get rot, in view of any rains/ or, natural and man-made disaster. Gujarat has only estimated some lakh crores of loss due to this inaction, leaving aside the unreported losses spread across cotton growing states.

Satisfactory agriculture growth in 2010

Riding on a strong performance by the agriculture and services sectors, the Indian economy posted a better than expected growth rate of 8.9 per cent for the second quarter of 2010-11. The farm sector grew 4.4 percent from a year earlier due to a good monsoon and a low base effect, up from 0.9 percent in the corresponding quarter a year ago. The recovery in agriculture is likely to have a positive impact on rural demand in the coming quarters and maintain the positive momentum in the economy.

India opposes to global call for the ban on the usage of Endosulfan

India, the largest producer and consumer of Endosulfan has opposed the global ban of the ill-fated chemical, after much dramatised events of anti-pesticide lobby groups documented and presented many cooked data and stories of health and environmental impacts of the same, mainly in the cashew plantations of Kasargod district of Kerala in the view of its rampant use. Indian side has clarified its stand of not favouring the move to ban the pesticide in lack of any strong evidence and review done by several committees, declaring Endosulfan as safe for both human beings and ecology.

Micro Irrigation;
the way to 2nd Green Revolution

There were times when people used to begin their speech/ lecture saying “Indian agriculture is a gamble with monsoon.” The scene has changed now. Thanks to micro irrigation and an increasing number of fields and crops getting covered with it, we can begin our speech with talking about improved yield, better quality produce, and higher monetary returns with efficient utilization of inputs.

Indian agriculture is basically rainfed farming, as most of our farmlands do not have enough irrigation facilities throughout the cropping season. This makes it imperative to use the available resource efficiently, sustainably, and economically to get the best yield out of that.

Water, one of the most necessary production input, is getting scarce, particularly in the aftermath of untoward events of climate shift, fast groundwater depletion, and repetitive monsoon failures. The shift from conventional flood irrigation to sprinkler, micro sprinkler, or drip irrigation systems is apparently visible, indicating the importance of water use efficiency for covering more area under irrigation.

The Government support in the form of subsidy is serving as a catalyst to compensate for the high initial cost of the system. Irrigation through micro irrigation techniques can give a real spurt in the water use efficiency as compared to the conventional means wherein we stand to loose copious amounts of water through evaporation, leaching, seepage, and percolation. Micro irrigation systems (MIS) direct droplets of water carefully, so much so that water use efficiency is enhanced to the tune of 30% - 60%. The advantages of this system has also prompted many farmers to adopt a more intensive way of cultivation incorporating multiple crops and a better cropping pattern, thus, increasing the yield and income from unit area to a greater extent.

Micro irrigation technology is gradually emerging as demand driven technology in India. This stage has come about over a period of 20 years. The role of Private manufacturers, government policies, and level of farmer awareness and that of media has helped to create the present situation - from a scantily respected “forced in Technology” micro irrigation to “much sought after” technology.

The coverage of micro irrigation is 5 million ha in India, which is far behind the potential area estimated at around 116 mha. The awareness level, however, has grown tremendously. yet, the spread of technology is restricted to states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The Northern states of India still have not come into the main picture yet. States like Haryana and UP are slowly getting into the groove.

There is an overall potential of more than 30 million ha area in India for providing drip irrigation. This includes fruits, vegetables, Sugarcane, Cotton, Tobacco, spices, Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Coconut, and floriculture crops. Of the potential area for Drip irrigation, only 58% comes under irrigation cover at present. The idea of rain water harvesting and farm pond concept would have to be taken with high priority to bring in the presently rain fed areas under drip irrigation. Similarly, 40 million ha area grows crops that can be suitably irrigated by Sprinkler systems.

There are manifold benefits of adopting the micro irrigation technique, which includes water saving to the extent of 40-60%, upto 40% yield benefits, healthy crops, fertilizers saving, labour cost cutting, bringing the problematic area under profitable cultivation, improving the overall quality of the produce, etc.

Using micro irrigation system, water is applied to the plant root zones as per the crop water requirements. This enables the plants to yield at the best of their capacity, in the lack of moisture crises at any stages of the crop growth. The soil moisture level is always maintained at the field capacity. Due to these and many more reasons, the technology is getting popular among the farming community.

Policy Interventions

Earlier, the impact of the invaluable technology was to the laudable scale and sector was much apprehensive about its growth, but government subsidies and financial assistance did the miracle job and today, even small / marginal farmers are installing the system on their farm for reaping the benefits of the well documented success stories at pan India level. National Horticulture Mission (NHM) acted as catalyst for the systems and the launch of National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI) in June 2010 had a considerable total outlay of Rs 1000 crores, which was much ahead of the earlier allocation of Rs 450 crore to the Micro-irrigation scheme. With this, the Micro-irrigation scheme is going to be extended to a total of 18 states from 12 states at present.

Agriculture ministry has recently released the new guidelines on National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI). In this, the government has increased subsidies provided under the National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI). Under the new NMMI guidelines, small and marginal farmers will get a subsidy of up to 60% of the MI project cost from the Union government, compared to a subsidy of 50% earlier. Other farmers will get a subsidy of 50%, compared to 40% earlier, for land holdings with a maximum area of 5 ha. The guideline also includes new MI technologies such as fertigation systems, sand filters, etc. Besides, payments are likely to get accelerated as the subsidy will now be disbursed by state implementing agencies, instead of district authorities. The agriculture ministry has allocated 1,106 crore for the NMMI scheme for the current year.

With these, the Mission would boost converge of micro irrigation activities under major government programmes such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil palm & Maize (ISOPOM), Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC), etc. for increasing water use efficiency, crop productivity, and farmers income.

Industry.....on the move

Today, the industry is vibrant like any other agri input sector, with the presence of all major Multinationals and desi giants and world class technology to farmers in India, helping them in optimum utilization of scarce water resources, enhancing farm productivity and quality of their produce.

Some of the major players in micro irrigation in India are Jain Irrigation, Netafim, Plastro Plasson, Nagarjuna, Parixit, and Premier. Apart from this, John Deere has also ventured into the Indian segment last year. Many other small and medium micro irrigation companies are functioning, mainly from Pune and Bangalore, which is making the industry highly competitive. The international expertise and desi blend of technology are working tirelessly in cost minimization and bringing refinement in the presently available systems.

Fertigation and Soluble/ Liquid fertilisers

Looking into the prospects of drip covering more and more area, another parallel industry of soluble fertilizers is catching the momentum.

Fertigation allows an accurate and uniform application of nutrients to the wetted area, where the active roots are concentrated. Therefore, it is possible to adequate the nutrients quantity and concentration to their demand through the growing season of the crop. Consequently, recommendations have been developed for the most suitable fertilizer formulation, including the basic nutrients NPK and micro nutrients according to the type of soil, physiological stage, climate, and other factors.

Fertigation system and nutrient supply to the crops according to their physiological stage of development, and consideration of the soil and climate characteristics, result in high yields and better quality crops with minimum pollution, thus, ensuring manifold benefits from the technology.

Almost all major private fertiliser companies supply liquid fertilizer in one or another form and micro nutrients. But majority of the liquid fertilizer is still imported from countries, mainly Israel and Netherland, whereas the Indian companies are mainly involved in their marketing and distribution.

As on today, the cost of liquid fertilizer is too high and unaffordable by most of the drip farmers, so government has to give an economic consideration for its wider adoptability.

Newer avenues

Micro irrigation technique should be furthered to other field crops in view of its resource utilization efficiency and economic benefits accrued per unit investment. Jain irrigation, ICRISAT, and some other government and private institutions are working on standardizing the protocol of micro irrigation for water intensive crops like rice and sugarcane, which can pave the way for much talked future of green agriculture.

Over the period, much collaboration had come up between public and private sector to refine the technology. In this direction, ICAR and many of the private companies have collaborated with Israel based institutions and multinational in the sector. Israel and Netherland are the countries, which have the authority on the sector and their productivity is on the same line.

There is a need for developing seeds and varieties suitable for cultivation under the micro irrigation system, so that more resource efficiency can be ensured, with aptly exploiting the production potential of the crop.

Netafim’s Jugaad technology

The world’s largest micro-irrigation company indigenised its Family Drip System (FPS) for mainstream farming in India. As a result, drip irrigation is now available for farms that are as small as a quarter acre. FPS was originally developed for irrigating the backyard gardens in developed countries.

For the purposes of drip irrigation, India’s farm needs were different from most other countries in two significant ways - small fragmented land holdings and electricity availability at the farms.

The conventional FPS is a pressure compensated system, which ensures that the flow of water is equal all over the farm right from the beginning to the end of the pipes, both on low lying portions of the field and on higher levels. This is achieved through valves, which clamp down when the water pressure increases and eases up when this pressure decreases. A conventional FPS has tap inlet through which the water supply is taken into the system.

This is where Netafim used a little bit of Indian jugaad/ improvisation, as water supply is not very regular on Indian farms.

To create water pressure, Netafim decided to befriend gravity. It recommended the setting up of a water tank at a height. This water tank could be filled with water with just 10 minutes of electrical motor power. If there was no electricity, the water could be filled in the tank through a hand pump. Once the tank was full, it could irrigate the field for over three hours.

As against other systems that would cost at least double, this system cost just Rs. 30,000 of which 50 percent came in by way of a grant from the state government. The farmer had to finance just around Rs. 15,000.

Way to ‘GO’

Other than the present level of subsidy by GOI under NMMI, additional assistance should be entrusted to the farmers of the water deficient regions and dryland areas, so that the majority of the areas could be brought under the cultivation.

But still the cost factor is hindering its growth story to make inroads into the areas of low risk bearing farmers and with the ongoing sets of R&D in the sector, to make it more affordable and befitting for such farmers. The days are not far when the diesel and electric irrigation pumps would go redundant and India would boast of the second Green Revolution, which can only be ensured through the way of efficient resource utilisation.

The uncalled for story of Endosulfan ban

India, the largest producer, exporter and consumer of Endosulfan has opposed the global ban of the ill-fated chemical, after much dramatised events of anti-pesticide lobby groups documented and presented many cooked data and stories of health and environmental impacts of the same, mainly in the cashew plantations of Kasargod district of Kerala in the view of its rampant use.

Since long time, Endosulfan is being blamed/ targeted for causing persistence soil pollution, adverse effects on human health, in form of many of the dysfunctions and deformities and other adverse impacts on ecology.

In view of the same, Government constitutes many of the review / enquiry/ fact finding committees but none found any of the objectionable ill effects of endosulfan either on human beings/ ecology as claimed by the not-so-profit groups of pesticide activists.

Several studies conducted by Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, Achuthan Commission, Kerala Agriculture University, IMA, Dubey Committee have concluded of no linkage between use of Endosulfan and the reports of health problems to the use of Endosulfan on the health problems reported at the Kasargod district of Kerala. All these studies have been conducted as recently as in the last eight years. Al claims have found and proved to be ‘hyped’ by the agencies to get funding for from the sides, gaining profit out of the ban imposition.

Kerala had stopped use of Endosulfan in 2005 and it is strange that the harmful effects were brought to light only recently. Endosulfan was sprayed across 10000 acres of Cashew crops throughout Kerala, prior to the ban - had Endosulfan been the cause of physical problems inside Kasargod, the Kerala state should have witnessed similar cases elsewhere as well.

India consumes around 12 million litres annually, of which more than a third is by Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. When no such harmful effects have been reported from these and other major consuming States, how can endosulfan cause problems in Kerala, which, even at its peak, was consuming a few kilolitres.

It is high time to seek an independent investigation into the flaws observed in the study which was released by the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH). The NIOH study was adopted by NGOs for propaganda against the generic pesticide Endosulfan since year 2002. Based on unscientific approach, the demands made by local NGOs should not be taken into account for considering such a serious decision affecting our country’s agriculture and food security system.

Major facts about Endosulfan:

  • India is the world’s No. 1 producer, exporter and consumer of endosulfan
  • India supplies 28 million litres (70%) of the total global endosulfan market of 40 million litres
  • The 28 million litres include 12 million litres for domestic market (worth Rs 270 crores) and 16 million litres of exports (worth Rs 180 crores)
  • Major Endosulfan manufacturers include Excel Crop Care, Coromandal International and Hindustan Insecticides Ltd.

Domestic pesticide manufacturers and Industry body, Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) accuses Multinational firms of their vested interests driving the demand for banning Endosulfan pesticide in India, as the MNCs are interested in promoting their patented products in the country. As the much sought for International ban would create a market for their products in the third world countries.

Endosulfan is being used in the country for the last 50 years and there has been no such scientific records available, which indicate that the use of this chemical has resulted into serious health hazards of any kind, stated International Stewardship Centre, an NGO working for chemical industry, and of the pragmatic view that replacing Endosulfan with any other chemical would be at least 10 times costlier for the Indian farmers. As a litre of Endosulfan costs Rs 250 to Indian farmers whereas any chemical manufactured by multinational would cost more than Rs 2,500 per litre thus making the use of pesticides 10 times costlier and unaffordable to the majority of small and marginal Indian farmers. Moreover, it is soft on pollinators such as honey bees, while being beneficial for lady bird beetle, chrysoperla, trichograma and other friendly insects.

The Indian pesticide industry has opposed listing of endosulfan as a ‘Persistent Organic Pollutant' (POP) under the Stockholm Convention, suggesting that the proposal is inspired by European agrochemical interests.

Endosulfan has been manufactured and exported out of Europe for over 55 years. There were no issues over its use until 2001, when the sole European manufacturer (Bayer CropScience) also decided to phase out the product from its portfolio. Following the particular manufacturer's move, the European Union (EU), in 2005, withdrew all authorisations for use of plant protection products containing endosulfan. Two years later, the same multinational stopped manufacturing endosulfan, even while continuing with its sales. The same year, the EU sought listing of endosulfan as a POP before the Stockholm Convention.

All these actions may be coincidental. But there are, no doubt, strong business interests which wouldn't mind if farmers are forced to replace endosulfan, which is an affordable and generic insecticide, with costlier proprietary molecules. It is purely about patented-versus-generic pesticides.

Endosulfan is the world's third largest-selling generic insecticide, with a 40-million litre-plus market valued at over $300 million. Currently, the Indian market of Endosulfan is about 12 million litres annually valued at Rs 270 crore. In India, there are three manufacturers of Endosulfan, including Hindustan Insecticides Ltd. At present, the overall Indian agrochemical market stands at Rs 5,200 crore and Endosulfan Rs 300 crore.

The Stockholm Convention, to which India is a signatory, requires parties to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. While a POP Review Committee of the Convention, in October, agreed on categorising endosulfan as a POP, a final decision would, however, be in the hands of a Conference of Parties in April 2011.

In the meantime, some 60 countries, including the 27 EU members States and 21 in Africa, have favoured banning the agrochemical. These countries account for hardly 12 per cent of the total global endosulfan consumption. Some of them, especially in Africa, have no choice, as they export cocoa and other farm products to the EU. On the other hand, India, China and Argentina have come out strongly against the proposed ban.

There are over 6000 workers employed in the manufacturing of Endosulfan in various plants of India and 400 of these workers are employed in the HIL plant. But no adverse health effects have been reported of the thousands worker and where the areas where its use is banned talks of all kind of malfunctioning and ill effects.

At present India has banned 27 pesticides for manufacture, import and use. However, in the study done by Consumer Voice, of the five banned pesticides that foodstuffs were tested for, four were found to be present in various fruits and vegetables.

The authorities need to improve Maximum Reside Limit(MRL) standards, which is at much higher sides when compared with the values of European/ American countries or, and put some specific pesticides on the list of banned pesticides. But it can be well argued that India still uses far less pesticides than many other countries. The real problem is that many farmers do not know the right time to spray pesticides, nor the right amount that needs to be sprayed. So proper education&training of growers about the safe pesticide practices with strengthening the extension system will only make the difference for all stakeholders of the sector.

Indian regulatory agency has clear conscience about the whole thing and clarified its stand of not favouring the move to ban the pesticide in lack of any strong evidence and review done by several committees, declaring Endosulfan as safe for both human beings and ecology.