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Sunday / May 26. 2024

Rajavelu N K, CEO, Crop Protection Business, Godrej Agrovet Ltd

Godrej Agrovet Limited’s (GAVL) Crop Protection Business made headlines with the launch of PYNA, an umbrella brand for sustainable cotton production in May, 2023. As a pioneer in introducing the concept of selective cotton herbicides in various markets, GAVL is set to offer three of its cotton weed management products, Hitweed, Hitweed Maxx, and Maxxcott under the PYNA brand. The brand aims to minimise crop–weed competition and facilitate the establishment of cotton crops during their early stages, which has a positive impact on the yield. In an interaction with AgroSpectrum, Rajavelu N K, CEO of the Crop Protection Business at Godrej Agrovet Ltd, shared his views on how the company is addressing the challenges faced by cotton farmers and its future plans. Edited excerpts:

When you already have a host of effective cotton weed management products such as Hitweed, Hitweed Maxx and Maxxcott, what prompted you to launch the PYNA brand? How will this make a difference for farmers?

Of the total 333 lakh hectares area under cotton cultivation globally, India ranks first with 120.69 lakh hectares area under cotton cultivation. However, in terms of productivity, it ranks 38th with a yield of 510 kg/ha. The primary reason for this is the weed infestations which can reduce cotton yields by up to 45 – 50 per cent due to wider spacing between the crops.

We are the sole manufacturer of selective cotton herbicide — Pyrithiobac sodium — in India. Our three weed management products for cotton – Maxxcott (Pre-Emergent Stage), Hitweed Maxx (Early Post Emergent Stage) and Hitweed (Post Emergent Stage) – offer farmers an extensive range of weed management options, starting from seed sowing to the active flowering stage of the crop. We noticed that only 10 per cent of the total cotton acreage area is treated properly today, with these products. We realised that there is a significant opportunity to make a greater positive impact on cotton yield and overall productivity by consolidating all our selective cotton herbicide products under the PYNA brand, to enable sustainable cotton production.

PYNA brands minimise the crop-weed competition and facilitate the healthy establishment of cotton crops in their early growth stages, thereby positively impacting the yield. To support the maximum number of farmers, we have partnered with Bayer CropScience, Rallis India, Dhanuka Agritech, PI Industries and Indofil Industries. With these companies also having their own products based on the active ingredient Pyrithiobac sodium, extending the PYNA brand would ensure quality supply to farmers every time and aid farmers to reduce dependency on manual and mechanical methods of weed control too. Brands can leverage the trust that the Godrej brand has earned amongst the farmers in the last 36 years and collectively tap into the remaining 90 per cent of untapped cotton acreage.

Why is only 10 per cent of the total cotton acreage area treated properly in the country? 

Cotton crops are vulnerable to pest infestations caused by the lack of crop rotation, monoculture practices, adverse weather conditions, poor soil quality, and inadequate pest management. Amidst this, India’s lower cotton productivity per hectare, compared to other countries also stems from outdated farming practices, insufficient irrigation facilities, and poor seed quality. The lack of access to proper irrigation, high costs of inputs like seeds and pesticides, and dependence on unpredictable monsoon rains further hinder effective treatment practices. These challenges collectively impact the productivity and quality of cotton crops, making it difficult for farmers, especially small-scale ones, to afford necessary treatments and maintain crop health.

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Rajavelu N K, CEO, Crop Protection Business,

In India, while vertical farming has gained some momentum, its adoption remains limited to urban areas, as traditional farming is still the more convenient and profitable choice for rural cultivators. Yet, there is a new crop of startups that are keen to make vertical farming widely accepted by farmers and consumers alike. Let’s explore this further.

The past decade has witnessed an increased dependence on technology and tech-enabled agriculture. The government, too, has been actively promoting the adoption of agri innovations, including AI, ML and monitoring of crops via satellite. With a focus on increasing productivity and providing precise data to cultivators for informed planning, technology has made significant inroads. Vertical farming is one such technological marvel gaining traction worldwide. It is particularly popular in smaller countries facing land constraints and water scarcity. Countries such as Singapore, the Middle East, the UK, and Japan have embraced vertical farming, revolutionising their agriculture. However, in India, while vertical farming has gained some momentum, its adoption remains limited to urban areas, as traditional farming is still the more convenient and profitable choice for rural cultivators. Yet, there is a new crop of startups that are keen to make vertical farming widely accepted by farmers and consumers alike. Let’s explore this further.

Around the world, sustainability has become a driving force across industries, including agriculture. Many countries are shifting towards farming solutions that demand less land, water and pesticides, with a focus on organic practices. Of course, these countries, either aren’t blessed with favourable climatic conditions, adequate and reliable rain, rich soil, and in some cases, a vast expanse of arable land. Vertical farming is one such solution empowering cultivators to grow produce with minimal land and water usage, and almost no pesticides or insecticides. Despite its promising prospects, vertical farming still has a long way to go to match the scale of traditional farming. The industry is presently valued at close to $200 million, with estimates suggesting it will double in size over the next five years.

The demand for eco-friendly, regionally produced, and natural products is witnessing a significant rise, a trend mirrored in the commercial feasibility of vertical farms. Technological advancements have driven down production costs, making vertical farms a viable alternative to traditional farming methods that heavily rely on pesticides and fertilisers. In the US alone, the number of active vertical farms exceeds 2,000. Buildings or shipping containers can house these farms, achieving greater yields than conventional outdoor farming, using 70-95 per cent less water.

Vertical farming entails growing crops vertically, optimising yield from the same land area by stacking crops. These stacked layers are often installed in structures that are not naturally suitable for farming, such as skyscrapers, warehouses, shipping containers, greenhouses, and even indoor facilities.

While plant stacking is an integral part of vertical farming, controlling environmental factors like natural light, humidity, and temperature is crucial to its success. Similar to conventional farming, failure to meet the right conditions can lead to catastrophic losses, especially in the face of natural disasters like drought or flood.

Vertical farming presents a promising path forward for sustainable agriculture, but it also poses unique challenges. We explore the potential and opportunities this transformative technology offers to the agricultural landscape while delving into the hurdles it faces in India and beyond.

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In India, while vertical farming has gained

Tim Glenn, Executive Vice President, Seed Business Unit, Corteva Agriscience

Corteva Agriscience is a global pure-play agriculture company that excels in industry-leading innovation, high-touch customer engagement, and operational execution to provide profitable solutions for the world’s most pressing agriculture challenges. With a unique distribution strategy, and a balanced mix of seed, crop protection, and digital products and services, Corteva generates advantaged market preference on a global scale. Recently, Corteva Agriscience commemorated the 50-year legacy of Pioneer Seeds in Hyderabad. To mark this milestone, Tim Glenn, Executive Vice President of the Seed Business Unit at Corteva Agriscience, graced the event and sat down with AgroSpectrum for an exclusive interview. In this discussion, he shared his insights into the latest trends and technologies in the seed industry, shedding light on their vision to establish India as an innovative seed hub. Edited excerpts;

How do you foresee the future of the seed industry in the APAC region?

In India, the seed market is very dynamic. We are focusing on four crops- rice, mustard, millet and corn, while continuing to be one of the nation’s leading suppliers. These hybrid seeds have great opportunities and have shown tremendous growth. The growth in agriculture is primarily driven by farmers, as they continuously strive to enhance productivity and meet the demands of growing population. In India, we have been operating in the seeds segment, with our global seed brand – Pioneer, for the last 50 years. Our contributions to innovating and introducing hybrid mustard have been significant. As a result, hybridization and the adoption of hybrid technology in these crops have experienced substantial growth. In India, we have 5 R&D facilities, serving 10 million farmers and  150 million hectares of farmland in India. Our Multi-Crop Research Center (MCRC) in Telangana serves as the technology hub for Corteva, not only in India but also for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

What are the strategies and plans of the company to expand the seed treatment segment in the Asian market?

In the last 10 to 20 years, there has been a tremendous amount of development and focus in the seed space. The seed treatments, which has become more technically oriented, penetrating crops that otherwise maybe have not had as much exposure. Today we use seed treatments, essentially in all markets where we do business. The interesting thing about seed treatment is obviously the seed applied technology, which is of two parts. Firstly, the treatment must deliver tangible benefits, such as pest or disease management or other desirable traits. Secondly, it should be compatible with the seed it is applied to. Both factors play a vital role in the effectiveness and success of seed treatment methods.

The environment in Asia, due to the climate, ensures a high level of compatibility. To develop the value proposition, we work directly with farmers, understanding their needs. The benefit proposition about seed treatment is that you can use the same product in different countries. In India we are investing in farmer education programs, bridging the knowledge gap and promoting understanding of seed technology. We actively engage with farming communities, offering training, demonstrations, and technical support to empower farmers in making informed decisions about adopting seed technology. Corteva’s success in India is a result of the strength of our seed technology and dedication to farmers. Through our sustainable seed portfolio, we aim to make India a global hub for seed innovation. With increased R& D investments, we continue to introduce agricultural innovations that will continue to progress farmers productivity and sustainability.

 What are the latest seed technologies by Corteva and what will be the strategies of the company to introduce them to the APAC and US market?

The year 2023 marks a milestone year for Corteva, as we have taken lead in becoming the number one in soybean herbicide resistant technology in North America, where we have been for over 25 years. Recently we have introduced three other seed technologies in different markets. These include Optimum GLY in canola, a new herbicide technology in Canada, the US and Australia this year. Also introduced Vorceed Enlist corn in North America, offering above ground and below ground next generation insect control in maize.

In the future, as we get more clarity on the regulatory environment for whether it has for GM (Genetically Modified) crops or for gene editing, the door opens for more applications there. We are optimistic and feel positive about the Indian regulators and in leaders have indicated openness to new technologies in seed, we think that will be healthy for continued development of agriculture in India and continue to improve the competitiveness of Indian agriculture on a world scale and help meet the long-term goals, both for sustainability but also for self-sufficiency. We are going to continue to invest in India, we will continue to work with policy makers and help any way we can to help ensure that there is a good process in place so that those new technologies can be ultimately brought to the market and put in the hands of Indian growers. We have enabled millions of farmers to maximize productivity and profitability by infusing technology into agriculture. From the adoption of hybrid seeds, to empowering the use of sustainable solutions in communities, we have been at the forefront of supporting resilience through proven science.

In 2022, Corteva has announced insecticide for coating paddy seeds as a complete Seed Treatment Technology (SAT) package. What are the plans of the company to introduce this product in the Indian market?

We have introduced it in a handful of markets in Asia today. In India, obviously it is a new technology. It is about collaboration and working through the regulatory process. And then taking the time to go through the field evaluation and fine tune how we were able to position the technology to growers that were optimistic about the technology. It has been introduced in rice and other markets in Asia and other countries as well. It has proven to be effective. I think it is about how we just got to go through the process here. And again, it is about going and working with farmers side by side and helping demonstrate what that value is once we have that opportunity.

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Tim Glenn, Executive Vice President, Seed Business

 By Sanjay Gupta, MD and CEO, National Commodities Management Service Limited (NCML)

In light of the recent announcement by Union Minister Anurag Thakur about introducing the ‘world’s largest food grain storage plan’ with warehouses in every block across the country under cooperative societies, it becomes essential to assess and emphasise the role of warehousing reforms for agricultural growth.

According to the annual report published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, the agriculture and allied sector engages 54.6 per cent of the total workforce (Census 2011) and contributes 18.6 per cent to India’s gross value added (GVA) at current prices during 2021-22.

The production trend in India also indicates positive growth with foodgrain production estimated at 315.72 million tonnes, an increase of 4.98 million tonnes compared to 2020-21.

Pulses production during 2021-22 reached a record 27.69 million tonnes, exceeding the last five years’ average, by 3.87 million tonnes, and oilseeds production hit a record 37.70 million tonnes, up by 1.75 million tonnes from 2020-21.

While the upward trend in production is promising for an agrarian nation, it also poses the challenge of having sufficient infrastructure to support such growth. Achieving self-sufficiency requires an ample supply of well-equipped warehouses to handle the increased production.

Studies by Chaturvedi and Raj (2015) reveal that India experiences post-harvest losses of foodgrains as high as 12 to 16 million tonnes annually, amounting to Rs 50,000 crore per year (Singh, 2010).

This highlights the significance of warehousing in preventing losses and ensuring efficient storage and distribution of agricultural produce. The importance of warehousing was recognised as early as 1928 in India, when the Royal Commission on Agriculture mentioned it in its report. All India Rural Credit Survey, in 1954, recommended the creation of storage facilities near production areas to minimise post-harvest losses. However, even after a century, the state of warehousing in India remains far from desired.

As seen in the adjoining table, a major portion of the organised warehousing capacity in the country is still managed by the government through Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) such as the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and State Warehousing Corporations (SWCs), State Marketing Federations, State Civil Supplies Corporations, and others.

The current situation not only calls for the creation of appropriate infrastructure but also significant reforms in warehousing. Warehousing reforms are of paramount importance in driving agricultural growth and ensuring the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.

Storage and Preservation

Proper storage is crucial for many agricultural commodities, including perishable goods, as they have a limited shelf life. Warehousing reforms offer modern storage techniques, temperature control systems, and inventory management practices that optimise the preservation of agricultural produce. These reforms enable farmers to store their produce for extended periods, reducing post-harvest losses including spoilage, minimising wastage, and maintaining the quality of goods. Reliable storage facilities enhance farmers’ confidence, allowing them to produce more without fear of immediate market saturation and ensuring a steady supply of goods to the market.

Market Stability

Warehousing reforms play a pivotal role in achieving market stability, a key requirement for sustained agricultural growth. In times of excess production, when there is a surplus of agricultural commodities, warehouses can be used to store the surplus and release  it gradually into the market as demand increases. By preventing sudden price crashes, these reforms shield farmers from significant losses and stabilise market prices. Stable prices incentivise farmers to invest in production, as they are assured of fair returns, while consumers benefit from consistent pricing and improved food security.

 Access to Finance

Warehousing reforms create opportunities for farmers to access financial resources vital for agricultural growth. Warehouses meeting prescribed standards can be used as collateral for obtaining loans from banks and financial institutions. Farmers can pledge their stored produce, ensuring a reliable and tangible asset that facilitates credit access at favourable interest rates. By leveraging their stored goods, farmers can manage their cash flow efficiently, invest in agricultural inputs, and meet various financial obligations. The committee formed under the chairmanship of Mr Dinesh Rai for Strengthening Negotiable Warehouse Receipts emphasised the role of Electronic Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (eNWRs) as an instrument to access finance. These eNWRsoffer advantages over paper warehouse receipts, reducing manual handling, eliminating transportation of paper receipts, minimising chances of forgery, and providing quick access to information.

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 By Sanjay Gupta, MD and CEO, National

By Dr Renuka Diwan, Co-Founder & CEO, BioPrime Agrisolutions

In a rapidly growing and urbanising India, a sustained agricultural growth and food security must be factored. Biotechnology holds great promise for enhancing crop resilience and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. One particularly promising approach gaining traction in recent years is the development of microbe–plant interactions for plant‐growth promotion and disease control. The interaction of plants and microbes forms an integral part of the Earth’s ecosystem and have applications in various fields. Studying and harnessing this communication can improve our understanding of natural phenomena that affect our daily lives and enable us to adopt practices that lead to sustainable resource utilisation, reduced environmental impact, pollution cleanup, and even influence on global atmospheric gases.

The connection between the plants and microbes is highly complex, regulated by specialised metabolic products that alter gene expression. This intricate relationship can result in plant growth, inhibition of soil pathogens, improved nutrient availability, biofilm development, accumulation of soil microbes, or a combination of these effects. Such interactions eliminate the need for artificial fertilisers that can contribute to pollution. Utilising these interactions in biotechnology offers numerous advantages. By employing naturally occurring plant-microbe pairings for plant development and biocontrol, the reliance on synthetic fertilisers and pesticide treatments can be minimised. Technologies involving plant–microbe interactions provide economically viable and environmentally sound alternatives to conventional processes. The mutualistic nature of these interactions enables plants to directly acquire nutrients (acting as biofertilisers) or facilitates the uptake of substances like iron or phosphate, making them more accessible to plants.

Leveraging Biological Agents

Microbials, which encompass naturally occurring microorganisms and their byproducts, provide sustainable and eco-friendly solutions to address climate-related stressors in crops. These biological agents work in harmony with nature, promoting plant health, improving nutrient uptake, and combating diseases and pests. By harnessing the power of biologicals, farmers can enhance the resilience of their crops, ensuring sustainable and consistent yields even in challenging climates.

Deploying Biostimulants

Biostimulants, derived from natural sources such as seaweed extracts, humic acids, and beneficial microbes, play a crucial role in strengthening crop health and resilience. These substances stimulate plant growth, enhance nutrient uptake efficiency, and improve stress tolerance. By incorporating biostimulants through biologicals, farmers can fortify their crops against drought, salinity, and extreme temperatures, ultimately leading to improved yields.

Using Abscisic Acid

Small molecules play a critical role in plant physiology and have been leveraged to enhance crop resilience. Notable examples include the use of abscisic acid (ABA) and proline, which are small molecules involved in plant stress responses. ABA is known to regulate stomatal closure, reducing water loss through transpiration and improving drought tolerance. In a study conducted by Smith et al. (2021), maize plants treated with exogenous ABA showed a 35 per cent reduction in water loss, enhancing their ability to withstand drought stress.

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By Dr Renuka Diwan, Co-Founder & CEO,

The event will be held from September 25th to 28th at the Bangalore Palace in Bengaluru

The 5th World Coffee Conference (WCC) 2023 has been announced by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), in partnership with the Coffee Board of India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Government of Karnataka, and the coffee industry. The event will be held from September 25th to 28th at the well-known Bangalore Palace in Bengaluru.

During the unveiling, the global coffee community gathered to celebrate the future of the coffee sector, with the theme of ‘Sustainability through Circular Economy and Regenerative Agriculture,’ reflecting the industry’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices. Dr S. Selvakumar, Principal Secretary of the Commerce & Industries Department, Government of Karnataka, highlighted the investment and employment opportunities across the coffee value chain.

Dr K.G. Jagadeesha, CEO, and Secretary, of the Coffee Board of India, announced Rohan Bopanna, India’s top Tennis Player and Arjuna Awardee, as the Brand Ambassador for the event, which marks the first time Asia will host the conference.

Jagdish Patankar, Executive Chairman of MM Activ Sci-Tech Communications and Event Curators, presented an exciting lineup of activities, including a Conference, Exhibition, Skill-Building Workshops, CEO & Global Leaders Forum, Growers Conclave, Competitions & Awards, Plantation Tours, Cultural Evenings, Buyer-Seller Meet, and B2B Meetings, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching experience for attendees.

The event will be held from September

The termination is based on Yotta’s inability to comply with the provision of its Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation

NaturalShrimp Incorporate a Biotechnology Aquaculture Company announced that it has terminated its previously announced Merger Agreement with Yotta Acquisition Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Yotta Merger Sub, Inc.

The termination is based on Yotta’s inability to comply with the provision of its Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation that prohibits Yotta from consummating an initial business combination unless it has net tangible assets of at least $5,000,001 upon consummation of such initial business combination, in connection with the transactions contemplated with the Merger Agreement, which makes impossible the satisfaction of certain conditions to NaturalShrimp’s obligations to consummate, and the consummation of, such transactions.

“After working on this for almost twelve months, we are naturally disappointed in this news,” stated William Delgado, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of NaturalShrimp. “We are currently in negotiations with another entity which will involve a Re-IPO and a new Capital raise of between $10-$12M. This opportunity has the full support of management, its advisors, and its Investment Banking team. The timing of this Re-IPO, if executed, will result in an up list on similar timing as the previous business combination agreement. That timetable for the up list remains at the end of September-beginning of October. Our team remains highly focused on commercialization and production ramp-up of farm-to-table sushi grade shrimp and fresh seafood including a planned U.S. facility expansion, and we look forward to additional announcements in the weeks to come.”

The termination is based on Yotta’s inability

This year’s mango exports to New Zealand surpassed 100000 kilogrammes, with the possibility of further imports by the end of the month

According to New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries, mango imports from India to New Zealand have tripled this year compared to last year. In 2022, New Zealand imported less than 30000 kilogrammes of mangoes from India, but this year’s figure has already surpassed 100000 kilogrammes, with the possibility of further imports until the end of the month.

Mango season in India typically starts in April and ends in July after the onset of monsoon rains. The increase in the volume of mango imports from India can be attributed to the resumption of services at the Maharashtra Agricultural Marketing Board vapour heat treatment facility in Mumbai, which is one of two facilities licensed to treat mangoes for export to New Zealand.

The suspension of mango exports from Mumbai to New Zealand in July 2020 was lifted in May this year following a virtual audit in February and an in-country audit in April. Mangoes imported into New Zealand must comply with the Import Health Standard and the bilateral agreement between the two countries. The facility in Mumbai has treated approximately 87407 kilogrammes of mangoes in the past three months, which accounts for about 80 per cent of total mango imports from India to New Zealand. However, despite the improvement in trade figures, mango exports from India to New Zealand still lag behind those from Latin America, with Peru leading the pack at 65.7 per cent of overall mango imports to New Zealand, followed by Mexico at 15.3 per cent, Australia at just under 10 per cent, and India at 6.9 per cent. Australia has been overtaken by South and Central American nations as the country’s largest source of mango.

This year's mango exports to New Zealand

State Governments along with Oil Palm processing companies are participating in Mega Plantation Drive for Oil Palm Cultivation to cover an area of roughly 7750 hectares

To increase the oil palm production area to 10 lakh hectares and boost the Crude Palm Oil production to 11.20 lakh tonnes by 2025-26, the Government of India launched National Mission for Edible Oils- Oil Palm in August 2021. In addition to the marked growth in the production of edible oils, the Mission is also successfully leading India towards an ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ by reducing the import burden. Under the Mission, the State Governments along with Oil Palm processing companies have initiated a Mega Oil Palm Plantation drive from 25th July 2023 to further increase oil palm cultivation in the country. Three major oil palm processing companies, namely, Patanjali Food Pvt. Ltd., Godrej Agrovet, and 3F are actively promoting and participating with the farmers in their respective states for record area expansion.

The Mega plantation drive commenced on 25th July 2023 and will continue till 12th August 2023. The major oil palm growing states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Karnataka, Goa, Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh will be participating in this initiative.

The drive started on the 25th of July 2023 in the Rest of India (RoI) states i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamilnadu, Odisha, Goa and Karnataka, and will continue till the 08th of August and will cover an area of almost 7000 hectares area out of which more than 6500 hectares is targeted to be covered by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

State Governments along with Oil Palm processing

The decline in volumes attributes to higher channel inventories in individual core markets as well as lower agricultural commodity prices.

In a tough market environment, BASF Group sales in the second quarter of 2023 declined by 24.7 percent compared with the prior-year period to €17.3 billion. ″We faced low demand from our key customer industries, except for automotive, ″ said Dr Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF, when presenting the results together with Chief Financial Officer Dr Dirk Elvermann.

In the Agricultural Solutions segment, sales of €2.2 billion were 9.3 percent below the level of the prior-year quarter. The main reason for this was the decline in volumes due to higher channel inventories in individual core markets as well as lower agricultural commodity prices. At €213 million, EBIT before special items was 4.3 percent below the prior-year quarter, especially due to lower volumes.  Sales performance was also weighed down by currency effects. Significant increases in prices in all regions and indications had a positive effect.

A slight sales increase in Europe was mainly driven by considerably higher prices compared with the prior-year quarter. This more than compensated for lower volumes, primarily in fungicides, and negative currency effects, in particular in Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.

In North America, sales were considerably below the level of the prior-year quarter due to lower volumes, especially of herbicides, and negative currency effects, mainly from the Canadian dollar.

Sales in Asia declined considerably, primarily due to lower volumes of herbicides and fungicides. Currency effects, particularly in China and India, also had a negative impact on sales performance. Prices, on the other hand, were increased considerably.

Sales declined significantly in the region South America, Africa, Middle East. This was mainly driven by lower volumes, particularly in fungicides in Brazil, as well as negative currency effects, especially in Argentina. This could only be partially offset by considerably higher prices.

The decline in volumes attributes to higher

New variety has an average on-farm yield of approximately 2.0 to 2.2 tons per hectare, boasting a shelling outturn of 65-70 per cent.

A superior groundnut variety, developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), is now available in the country for cultivation for the upcoming post-rainy season, bolstering economic opportunities for farmers. This improved variety is more resistant to diseases and has been designed to meet the needs of food processing industries.

After successful testing in Bangladesh, the new groundnut variety BARI Chinabadam-12 (ICGV 07219), which has tan-colored kernels and exhibits desirable market traits has been approved for commercial cultivation.

Dr Manjurul Khadir, Principal Scientific Officer at BARI’s Regional Agricultural Research Station, emphasized the need to enhance domestic groundnut production in response to the increasing demand from food processing industries.

“This new variety presents a valuable opportunity for expanding groundnut cultivation in areas typically submerged during the rainy season, such as the ‘Char regions’ (newly-formed landmasses in a river or estuary) or locations adjacent to rivers with sandy-loam soil,” said Dr Khadir.

Compared to the popular and previous variety grown in the country (BARI Chinabadam-9), the new variety has superior attributes. It has an average on-farm yield of approximately 2.0 to 2.2 tons per hectare, boasting a shelling outturn of 65-70 per cent.

It demonstrates greater resistance to foliar fungal diseases and matures four days earlier than its counterpart. Additionally, the variety features desirable seed size, with kernels weighing 44-48 grams per 100 kernels, showing a sizeable increase of 4-8 grams compared to the check variety.

ICRISAT scientist Dr Sean Mayes, Research Program Director – Accelerated Crop Improvement, recently visited Bangladesh and met with leaders at BARI and other institutes.

“ICRISAT and BARI have a long history of collaboration to serve the farmers of Bangladesh, and this new variety is another milestone in that joint work. I look forward to further releases, and it is great that BARI is currently testing high oleic acid groundnut varieties to meet the industry’s demands,” said Dr Mayes.

ICRISAT and BARI have, over the last two decades, developed several new groundnut varieties. Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director-General of ICRISAT, expressed gratitude for the support received from various organizations for the breakthrough, especially the Asian Development Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, OPEC Fund for International Development, and USAID-IKP Knowledge Park.

“This achievement in groundnut development underscores the transformative impact that strong partnerships can have in shaping a sustainable and prosperous agricultural landscape where persistent challenges have remained,” said Dr Hughes.

New variety has an average on-farm yield

Grape seed oil from Manjri Medika variety has a strong potential for utilisation in high value functional food and nutraceutical industries.

ICAR-NRC Grapes has introduced a grape seed oil with high nutraceutical properties from Manjari Medika, a unique, made in India grape variety. This technology was recently chosen as one of the five best entries of the Horticulture Division of ICAR, New Delhi. Dr Kaushik Banerjee, the Lead Developer and the Director of the institute received this recognition from the Union Ministers of Government of India, Parshottam Rupala and Kailash Chaudhary, in presence of Dr Himanshu Pathak, the Director General, ICAR, on the occasion of ICAR Foundation and Technology Day celebration at NASC auditorium in New Delhi.

Dr Banerjee mentioned that this grape seed oil from Manjri Medika variety has a strong potential for utilization in high value functional food and nutraceutical industries. It is also possible to utilise it as a constituent in cosmetics and diverse personal care products. He further requested the food, feed and health care industries to consider utilizing this unique grape seed oil for commercialisation, or value addition to their existing products.

This oil is rich in vitamin E (1500 mg/kg) and beneficial fatty acids. It is also rich in gamma-tocotrienol content (1100 mg/kg), which protects human body from exposure to atmospheric radiation. The oil has proven to be beneficial for the treatment of hepatic inflammation related disorders in animal bodies. The polyphenolic constituents provide antioxidant properties on oral ingestion or dermal supplementation. After the oil extraction, the remaining solid (grape seed cake) is also useful as an animal feed, containing high proportions of polyphenolic antioxidants and dietary fiber. This highlights the ‘zero waste” nature of this innovative technology. All these have been published by Dr Banerjee and his team in leading scientific journals, viz. Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy, European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, and Journal of Inflammation Research.

Grape seed oil from Manjri Medika variety

Marut’s seedcopters aims to plant 1 billion trees by 2030 through its seeding campaign ‘Hara Bahara’.

In a novel attempt to make barren patches green, India’s leading drone manufacturer and service provider Marut Drones launched drone seeding for lands in and around Agra and Ferozabad districts. The ongoing massive afforestation activities under the ‘Hara Bahara’ campaign in these districts spans over 10 acres of forest land. Minister of Forest, Uttar Pradesh – Shri Dara Singh Chauhan, PCCF, UP; HOD of Forest of UP, other government officials, and environmental experts were present during the drone seeding session.

Marut’s Seedcopter is India’s only ‘Type Approved Drone’. Type approval is essential to generate UIN, akin to the engine chassis number, without which no drone weighing more than 250 grams can fly in Indian airspace. In pursuance of the state government’s ‘Vriksharopan Jan Abhiyan’ Marut Drone’s corporate social campaign ‘Hara Bahara’ is providing the technical expertise for dropping seed balls using drones. By aiding pollination and navigating at a micro level, Marut’s seedcopters will save operations time.

With a vision to use technology for a purpose, Marut drones has been working to create innovative drone solutions for healthcare, environment, afforestation, and agriculture in Telangana and Arunachal Pradesh. Marut aims to plant 1 billion trees by 2030, and for forest regeneration, has joined hands as a Technical Partner with the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh under the ‘Vriksharopan Jan Abhiyan 2023’.  This is especially in time, when India is focusing on afforestation and sustainability as a key goal.  Marut’s seed copter activity is aimed at regenerating forests rather than profit-making.

Speaking on the noble initiative, Minister of Forest, Uttar Pradesh, Dara Singh Chauhan said, “We have harnessed drone technology to disperse seeds across 10 acres of land in and around Agra and Firozabad districts. Through campaigns of such scale, we are setting another record today, we hope to amplify the state’s vegetation cover, combat desertification, and cultivate local trees and wild plants.”

Commenting on the nationwide campaign, Founder of Marut Drones, Prem Kumar Vislawath said, “This can be India’s solution to the emerging climate crisis. The seed balls include some seeds of minor forest produce species including some fruit species, this helps in the survival of forest animals and tribal communities, and other forest dwellers. We are hoping to create a positive impact on the local environment and community in Uttar Pradesh by increasing the green cover and raising carbon sequestration.”

Marut’s seedcopters aims to plant 1 billion

The collaboration between PepsiCo and Walmart offers a voluntary, flexible approach to regenerative agriculture

PepsiCo and Walmart announced a 7-year collaboration to pursue $120 million worth of investments focused on supporting U.S. and Canadian farmers in their pursuit to improve soil health and water quality. By establishing and scaling financial, agronomic and social programs, it aims to enable and accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices on more than 2 million acres of farmland and deliver approximately 4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and removals by 2030 – roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power 778,300 homes for one year1. 

Commenting on the voluntary adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, Jeff Huffman, Owner & Operator of Island Farms LLC in Maxwell, Neb., said, “From my perspective, embracing regenerative agriculture is essential. It’s good for farmers, not only because it’s beneficial to the environment and our food quality, but also for the profitability of our businesses. If you use less fertiliser and you grow a bigger crop, or if you use less water and can still grow the same size of the crop, it strengthens your farm in a way that benefits the bottom line and our environment for generations to come.”

PepsiCo’s and Walmart’s businesses are dependent on farmers to grow ingredients that are used to make delicious products that consumers enjoy every day. With a supply chain for the two companies that stretches across North America and involves a large volume of critical crops – including potatoes, oats, corn, wheat, soybean and rice – sustainability will look different from commodity to commodity, region to region, and even farm to farm. The collaboration between PepsiCo and Walmart offers a voluntary, flexible approach to regenerative agriculture that gives farmers a seat at the table, recognises the diversity of agriculture and that one size does not fit all.

“At Walmart, our sustainability strategy is built to make the everyday choice the sustainable choice for our customers. This collaboration with PepsiCo is a great example of how we are prioritising the expansion of regenerative agricultural practices among farmers across North America so that we can continue to make quality products affordable and accessible for customers. This collaboration aims to help elevate farmer livelihoods, engage them on how to more sustainably manage soil health, increase yields and create a model that others can mimic across other product categories, including encouraging additional investments in regenerative agriculture by other brands,” said Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President for sustainability at Walmart.

The collaboration between PepsiCo and Walmart offers