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 The partnership will significantly foster agricultural biological innovation worldwide by connecting top-tier biocontrol industries and their technology scouting for rapid commercialisation.

The World BioProtection Forum (WBF) and the Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) are delighted to announce the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that sets the stage for a dynamic partnership aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture and biocontrol products and technologies. The MoU, signed in Swansea, Wales, marks the beginning of a collaborative effort that leverages the strengths and expertise of both organisations to foster innovation and growth in the agricultural sector.

Key elements of the partnership include:

Innovation and R&D: Access to collaborative research and international trials enables both organisations to stay at the forefront of Agricultural biological innovations, ensuring their offerings are cutting-edge and highly marketable.

Regulatory Advocacy: Collaborative efforts to advocate for favourable policy reforms can significantly reduce market entry barriers, fostering a conducive environment for products and services.

Global Scouting and Collaboration: ICFA, through its group organisations, will work with WBF to scout for bio-input products, technologies, and companies worldwide for potential mergers, acquisitions, collaborations, or licensing agreements.

Strategic Alliances: By engaging with industry leaders and innovators within WBF and ICFA, organisations can forge partnerships that accelerate product development and market penetration, driving profitability.

Market Expansion: The WBF and ICFA global network offers unparalleled opportunities for market intelligence and entry into untapped regions, enhancing competitive edge.

Training and Conferences: The parties will jointly organise training programs, meetings, symposia, conferences, and regulatory campaigns related to their mutual interests.

Event Hosting: ICFA or its group organisations, such as Agriculture Today Group (ATG) and International Agriculture Consulting FZ-LLC, Dubai (IACG), will host the Annual World BioProtection Summit and Awards (AWBSA). These events will be organised globally by ICFA and WBF.

Dr. Minshad Ansari, Chairman and Founder of WBF, said, “This new global alliance between WBF and ICFA will significantly foster agricultural biological innovation worldwide by connecting top-tier biocontrol industries and their technology scouting for rapid commercialisation. This initiative is uniquely positioned to accelerate the global agbio market.

Dr M J Khan, Chairman of ICFA, said, “This partnership with a global biocontrol association, WBF, brings a tremendous opportunity to advance sustainable agriculture practices in India and globally. By combining our resources and expertise, we can drive significant progress in biocontrol technologies, benefiting farmers and the environment alike.”

This partnership represents a significant step forward in the global effort to enhance sustainable agricultural practices and biocontrol technologies. WBF and ICFA are excited about the opportunities this collaboration will bring and look forward to achieving significant milestones together.

 The partnership will significantly foster agricultural biological

Polymeric microgels are engineered for the slow release of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilizers over an extended period to enhance crop nutrition.

A research team from the Indian Institute of Technology Mandi has achieved a significant breakthrough in sustainable agriculture with the development of natural polymer-based multifunctional smart microgels. These microgels are engineered for the slow release of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilisers over an extended period, presenting a promising solution to enhance crop nutrition while minimising environmental impact.

Modern agriculture heavily relies on fertilizer applications to meet the escalating food demand of a growing population. While fertilizers are essential for providing nutrients to plants and improving crop yields, their effectiveness is often compromised by factors such as gaseous volatilization and leaching. Consequently, excessive fertilizer application not only leads to high costs but also has adverse effects on the environment, including groundwater and soil contamination, as well as human health hazards. Therefore, developing technological alternatives that prolong fertilizer release is imperative to facilitate a shift towards sustainable agriculture practices.

The findings of this comprehensive research have been published in the prestigious journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces from American Chemical Society. The research work was led by Dr Garima Agrawal along with her team including Ankita Dhiman, Piyush Thaper and Dimpy Bhardwaj from School of Chemical Sciences, IIT Mandi. The research was funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board, Government of India and the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Explaining the motive of the study, Dr Garima Agrawal, Assistant Professor, School of Chemical Sciences, IIT Mandi, said, “We have developed natural polymer-based multifunctional smart microgels for the slow release of urea over longer period. These microgels also act as a potential source of phosphorus for plants and are cost effective, biodegradable and environment friendly.”

Further Dr Agrawal added, “The microgel formulation is eco-friendly and biodegradable, as it is made with natural polymers. It can be applied by mixing it into the soil or by spraying it on plant leaves. Recent studies with maize plants have shown that our formulation greatly improves maize seed germination and overall plant growth compared to pure urea fertilizer. This sustained release of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers helps crops thrive while cutting down on fertilizer use.”

These findings pave the way for sustainable agriculture, offering a promising solution to optimise nutrient supply, enhance crop yields, and mitigate environmental challenges associated with traditional fertilisers.

Polymeric microgels are engineered for the slow

Grow India operates the largest carbon farming platform for smallholder farmers in India. The platform includes four carbon programs across 13 states.

Grow Indigo, a leading science enabled sustainable agriculture company has successfully raised over USD $8 million in a recent funding round with a cumulative capital raise of more than USD $23 million to date. The round saw interest from investors globally including participation from Indigo Ag, Mahyco and individuals. Grow India is a joint venture between Indigo Ag and Mahyco that was formed in 2018.

Grow India operates the largest carbon farming platform for smallholder farmers in India. The platform includes four carbon programs across 13 states and cumulatively aim to reduce/ remove emissions by 20Mt CO2e annually from agriculture. About 800,000 acres have already been enrolled in the Company’s programs.

“With sustainability at its core, Grow Indigo has now demonstrated adoption of biological inputs and carbon solutions at scale by farmers,” said Dr Usha Barwale Zehr, Executive Chairman of Grow Indigo. “This lays the foundation for rapid growth of sustainable agriculture in the coming years.” 

In partnership with leading research organizations, the Company uses its science capabilities including satellite imagery analysis to monitor and measure soil carbon sequestration and on-farm GHG emission reductions. Grow Indigo is also helping food, beverage and apparel companies reduce their scope 3 emissions in their supply chains with sustainably grown crops. Farmers are incentivised based on the verified outcomes of carbon mitigation efforts, and the company expects to enroll over 7.5 million acres in the coming years. Carbon, a new revenue stream for farmers, could become the 5th largest agri-export commodity from India, and is expected to generate an additional USD $7 billion annually as income for smallholder farmers by 2030.

The company’s biological products today are used on 4 million acres in 16 states with an extensive network of channel partners. These products enable farmers to reduce their chemical inputs and increase resilience through enhanced nutrient use efficiency, water use efficiency, reclaiming soil health, insect-disease control using biopesticides and increased ability to mitigate abiotic stresses using biostimulants. With a strong focus on research and development, the company has a robust pipeline of new products.

Grow Indigo has built a skilled team of over 250 Agronomists, Researchers, Data Scientists, Engineers, and Sales Professionals, dedicated to scaling up climate solutions through regenerative agricultural practices.

Grow India operates the largest carbon farming

CCEA approves continuation of Urea Subsidy Scheme; Rs. 3,68,676.7 Crore committed for urea subsidy for 3 years

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a unique package of innovative schemes for farmers with a total outlay of Rs.3,70,128.7 crore. The bouquet of schemes is focused on the overall well-being and economic betterment of farmers by promoting sustainable agriculture. The initiatives will boost farmers’ income, strengthen natural/organic farming, rejuvenate soil productivity, and ensure food security.

The CCEA approved the continuation of the Urea Subsidy Scheme to ensure constant availability of urea to the farmers at the same price of Rs 242/ 45 kg bag excluding taxes and neam coating charges.  Out of the above-approved package, Rs. 3,68,676.7 Crore have been committed for urea subsidy for three years (2022-23 to 2024-25). This is apart from the recently approved Nutrient Based Subsidy of Rs 38,000 Crore for the Kharif season for 2023-24. The farmers need not spend extra for the purchase of urea, and this will help moderate their input costs. At present, the MRP of urea is Rs.242 per 45 kg bag of urea (exclusive of charges towards neem coating and taxes as applicable), whereas the actual cost of the bag comes to around Rs. 2200.  The Scheme is wholly financed by the Government of India through budgetary support. The continuation of the Urea Subsidy scheme will also maximise indigenous production of Urea to reach self-sufficiency levels.

Due to ever-changing geopolitical situations and increased raw material prices, Fertiliser prices have been increasing multifold globally over the years. But the Government of India has protected its farmers from steep fertiliser price rises by increasing the fertiliser subsidy. In its endeavour to safeguard our farmers, the Government of India has increased the Fertiliser subsidy from Rs. 73,067 Cr in 2014-15 to Rs. 2,54,799 Cr in 2022-23.

By 2025-26, eight Nano urea plants with a production capacity of 44 Crore bottles equaling 195 LMT of conventional urea will be commissioned. Nano fertiliser releases nutrients in a controlled manner contributing to higher nutrient use efficiency while costing less to the farmers. The application of Nano Urea has demonstrated an increase in crop yield.

Setting up and revival of 6 urea production units at Chambal Ferti Ltd. – Kota Rajasthan, Matix Ltd. Panagarh West Bengal, Ramagundam-Telangana, Gorakhpur-UP, Sindri-Jharkhand and Barauni-Bihar since 2018 is helping to make the country atmanirbhar in terms of urea production and availability. Indigenous production of urea has increased from the level of 225 LMT during 2014-15, to 250 LMT during 2021-22. In 2022-23, production capacity has increased to 284 LMT. These along with Nano Urea Plants will reduce our current import dependency on urea and finally make us self-sufficient by 2025- 26.

CCEA approves continuation of Urea Subsidy Scheme;

“Shoots by Syngenta™” will also include a startup accelerator, providing a supportive ecosystem for early-stage companies developing new agricultural technologies

Syngenta Group announced the launch of “Shoots by Syngenta™,” a global platform designed to help tackle agriculture’s most complex challenges, increase innovation, and advance more sustainable agriculture. Starting with science-based innovation challenges, the platform will connect scientific discovery and creativity, bringing together academics, research institutes, startups, and cross-industry sectors to collaborate with Syngenta’s global network of 5,000+ scientists.

“Shoots by Syngenta™” will also include a startup accelerator, providing a supportive ecosystem for early-stage companies developing new agricultural technologies. Cohorts of startups will enter a program connecting them with mentors, resources, and funding to accelerate their growth and impact.

“Helping growers sustainably feed a rapidly growing human population requires a strong collaboration focus, not just across agriculture but across industries,” said Gusui Wu, Global Head of Seeds Research. “Collaboration is at the heart of how our scientists approach innovation every day. It’s embedded in our scientific culture, and we are continually seeking out different technologies, solutions and partners to help us better serve farmers.”

“Shoots by Syngenta™” will spotlight specific innovation needs from across the Syngenta Crop Protection and Seeds businesses. Science-based innovation challenges will be posted on the website, enabling anyone with a scientific interest to submit proposals in response to the challenges or other areas of focus. Proposals are quickly evaluated, and if there is a mutual fit, they are progressed to a collaboration partnership to take forward the research or technology that might eventually be licensed.

“We know that science holds the answer to the challenges we face, so we’re open to sharing and helping others benefit from our world-leading findings and experiences,” says Camilla Corsi, Global Head of Research for Syngenta Crop Protection. “Shoots by Syngenta™ gives us gives access to real, proven data and insight, which can inform and accelerate future science-led breakthroughs.”

Additionally, the startup accelerator will provide early-stage companies the opportunity to pilot their technology at Syngenta’s Farm of the Future and select grower farms globally, mentorship and access to industry experts, and an opportunity to present and test ideas with relevant business leaders and investors. Participants will get one-on-one mentoring by Syngenta business leaders that is customized based on each team’s specific requirements.

“Our vision is to create an ecosystem that drives innovation and collaboration in the agricultural industry, creating a more sustainable and efficient future for farmers, consumers, and the planet,” said Feroz Sheikh, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Syngenta Group. “We believe that the most promising solutions to global food security, sustainability, and productivity will come from bringing together innovative and technology-driven start-ups with growers and industry experts.”

Leaders from Syngenta Group will be present at this week’s World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit and the IUPAC International Congress of Crop Protection Chemistry to engage with fellow innovators and share more on “Shoots by Syngenta™.”

“Shoots by Syngenta™” will also include a

The project includes the creation of over 12,600 jobs and 300 enterprises in organic agriculture.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has launched a project to support farmers and promote sustainable agriculture in the region.

The state government has announced an amount of Rs 84 crore to support the project over the next five years. The initiative is part of a larger effort to promote sustainable agriculture, commercial agriculture and healthy food production.

According to the government statement, the project includes the creation of over 12,600 jobs and 300 enterprises in organic agriculture. The project will also provide training to 10,000 farmers and their families in organic farming and establish 200 commercial and 3,000 low-cost vermicompost units and 100 integrated organic farming system units. The project targets to create around seven organic clusters in every district, covering 2,000 hectares of land. It also aims to convert another 2,000 hectares into organic production. Jammu and Kashmir’s administration has approved 29 projects for sustainable agriculture in the region.

The project includes the creation of over

The tractor is designed to tackle demanding constraints posed by narrow vineyards

The Straddle Concept from New Holland Agriculture, a global brand of CNH Industrial, has won the gold medal for Excellent Product Design at the German Design Awards 2023. This prestigious ward is given by the German Design Council (set 1953) to products that display outstanding innovation and a seamless marriage of form and function. 

New Holland partnered with Pinnifarina , the internationally renowned design house, to develop the Straddle Tractor Concept. The tractor is designed to tackle the demanding constraints posed by narrow vineyards – which are renowned for producing high quality, high value, wines from grapes grown in rows less than 1.5 metres wide, often on steep slopes. Inspired by the shape of a champagne flute, the design of the tractor is a tribute to our grape growing customers. 

The concept has also been created as ready for electric traction. This reflects New Holland’s commitment to more productive and sustainable agriculture, and its focus on alternative fuelled machines for a better future. 

This award is the latest recognition of the company’s continued excellence in industry leading design and innovation. 

The tractor is designed to tackle demanding

Focus in the seminar will be on tech for green fertilisers, sustainable agriculture, green financing and optimising cost of logistics

Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Health and Family Welfare, Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurated Fertiliser Association of India (FAI) Annual Seminar 2022 (Fertiliser Sector by 2030) at New Delhi. Arun Singhal, Secretary Department of Fertilisers, Arvind Chaudhary, DG FAI, KS Raju, Chairman FAI and representatives of Industries and other senior officials of the Ministry were also present on the occasion.

This year FAI Annual Seminar is devoted to the theme ‘Fertiliser Sector by 2030’ and there will be presentation on technologies for green fertilisers, worldwide developments in sustainability area, sustainable agriculture, green financing and optimising cost of logistics. The presentations and discussion in the Seminar will result in some useful recommendations which will be useful for policy makers and for all those concerned with farm and fertiliser sectors.

While addressing the occasion, Mansukh Mandaviya stated that one of the important components for ensuring food security is fertilisers. He said that during the last three years, there has been a huge increase in fertilisers and raw materials prices. The minister informed “our government has brought various reforms and ensured that fertilisers are made available at affordable prices to Indian farmers. We have done this by increasing the amount of fertiliser subsidy from $10 Billion for the pre-pandemic year 2019-20 to almost $27 Billion in the current year. 

The Minister further said “The world today faces severe challenges in the rising costs and availability of fertilisers. There is a dire need for our global partners to have reasonable and transparent mechanisms and take long-term views in dealing with issues of fertilisers in the larger interest of global food security”. He added that the world is still dealing with three shocks conflict in Ukraine, the consequences of Covid 19 and climatic disturbances. Together these factors make a powerful case to grow our supply chains and strengthen self-reliance to meet food and health security goals.

Mandaviya said,“Long-term Agreements and MoUs will have an important role to play in making steady progress in this direction. Our government has facilitated various such agreements and MoUs between Indian Fertiliser companies and foreign suppliers to ensure stability in fertiliser supplies to our farmers”.

He added, “India’s economic recovery is propelled by reforms in various areas including manufacturing, labour, agriculture, education, and of course, improving the ease of doing business. Towards this direction, concrete steps are taken to promote Make in India’ in the fertiliser sector by reviving 5 closed urea plants. By 2025, India will become self-sufficient in urea. One of the recently introduced schemes of our government is ‘One Nation One Fertiliser’ under which Urea, MOP, DAP and NPK will be sold under the uniform Bharat brand to bring uniformity in the quality and brands”.

The minister also informed another initiative introduced is the concept of “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samriddhi Kendras” to convert all retail fertiliser outlets of about 3 lakhs into single window service centres for the farmers.

The Chemical and Fertilisers Minister strongly urged the industry to look at developing new farm solutions for improving nutrient use efficiency as it positively impacts the entire value chain and will significantly help in achieving sustainable goals. He also said that the industry must drive research efforts towards alternative fertilisers and new-age smart solutions. Nano fertilisers are an excellent example towards optimising efficiency, economy and ecology.

On this occasion, Union Minister also released three FAI publications and FAI Data portal. This portal will create a uniform data base and avoid manual input of data by FAI.

Focus in the seminar will be on

Regulatory reform to provide guidance to the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

The World BioProtection Forum (WBF) has launched its much-anticipated white paper this week, providing an authoritative compilation of global expert recommendations on regulatory reform that will provide guidance to the UK’s DEFRA as they revise biopesticide regulations in line with the drive for better regulation, nurturing green technologies and overhauling the UK regulatory environment through the government’s Brexit Freedom Bill.

The white paper, which is entirely based on the knowledge, views and opinions of international experts comprising the WBF Biopesticides Reform Working Group, provides a comprehensive compilation of expert advice and recommendations for regulatory reform. The white paper was written for the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which will be considering the content as they pursue the objective of improving biopesticide regulations and the UK government’s Brexit Freedom Bill goal to develop new laws and regulations that best fit the needs of the UK, by the end of 2023.

“Sustainable agriculture is going to have to be a part of solving the climate crisis we are facing,” said Dr Minshad Ansari, Chairman of the WBF. “But lengthy, complicated, and often unsuitable regulatory requirements for new sustainable solutions have created big obstacles – blocking or delaying the availability of new biocontrol products for many years. Our hope is that, by supporting DEFRA, we will finally be able to achieve a sensible risk assessment process that nurtures our sector and allows innovation to flourish. Our greatest hope is that other countries and regions will also consider DEFRA’s great work as a basis for further reforms.”

Dr Sarah Harding, Communications Advisor to the WBF and one of the white paper authors of the white paper, said, “It is absolutely vital that regulators across the world finally accept and reflect the fact that biocontrol solutions are not conventional chemical pesticides, and their evaluation processes need to be adapted to separate biologicals and chemicals. In our discussions with DEFRA to date, they have been extremely positive about the need for change, and open to discussions that we hope will lead to a world-leading biopesticide/bioprotectant regulatory system.”

Regulatory reform to provide guidance to the

The funding will be used to advance climate resilience in agriculture by accelerating product development.

 US based Arable, the leader in field intelligence for agriculture, announced that it has raised $40 million in series C financing. The company will use the new funding to advance climate resilience in agriculture by accelerating product development, delivering new services for customers and expanding its global footprint.

Arable received the very first investment from Tom Steyer and Katie Hall’s new climate investment platform, Galvanize Climate Solutions, which led the fundraising round. In connection with their investment, Saloni Multani, partner at Galvanize Climate Solutions, joined Arable’s board. The funding sees new participation from Qualcomm Ventures. Also joining the round are Arable’s existing investors, including Prelude Ventures, S2G Ventures, Ajax Strategies, Grupo Jacto, Middleland Capital, M2O and iSelect.

Arable’s unique approach to data-driven decision-making resonates with its customers, resulting in four times growth in annual recurring revenue each of the last two years. Arable’s users are drawn to the ability to monitor and respond to conditions in their fields in real time, with active users on Arable’s mobile app increasing by 200 percent in the last 12 months. To support this growth, Arable has doubled the size of its team in the last year and added offices in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Bangalore, India.

Multani said, “Arable is at the cutting-edge of farm innovation with technologies that combine the next frontier of connected sensors and machine learning. We are excited to lead this investment round because the company’s technology aligns with our mission to scale vital and urgent climate solutions.”

Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable said, “In addition to being used on-farm for operational decisions, Arable also helps larger companies to see across their entire farm supply chain, enabling them to accurately benchmark sustainability, estimate carbon emissions and sequestration, and predict yield or timing.”

To ensure the highest level of data accuracy, Arable has created a unique calibration and validation network of 30 global research institutions on more than 50 sites across 15 different climate zones who partner to produce industry-leading models that continuously improve with time through machine learning.

The funding will be used to advance

The review aims to inspire future developments of non-destructive technologies for plant health diagnosis

Researchers from the Disruptive & Sustainable Technologies for Agricultural Precision (DiSTAP) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, and their local collaborators from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)  as well as the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE), National University of Singapore (NUS) have published a review.

The review discusses the recent advances in non-destructive plant health monitoring, ranging from electrochemical-based arrays to nanosensors and electronic noses, and why tracking plant health is an attractive and sustainable strategy that can be used to optimise crop growth practices. The review aims to inspire future developments of non-destructive technologies for plant health diagnosis.

“In light of the increasing demand for food due to the growing global population and concern over food security, developing innovative and sustainable technologies and tools to improve crop yield and quality is timely and essential. Non-destructive plant health monitoring stands as one of the key strategies for improving crop growth practices, complementing current agricultural techniques such as crop rotation, intercropping and genetic modification,” said Dr Gajendra Pratap Singh, Principal Investigator and Senior Scientific Director at DiSTAP.

“By tapping into plants’ physiological events in real-time, non-destructive sensors enable prompt adjustment of environmental conditions to augment crop productivity while minimising resource use,” added Dr Tedrick Thomas Salim Lew, Scientist at A*STAR’s IMRE and Adjunct Assistant Professor at NUS ChBE, who was the corresponding author of the article. 

The review aims to inspire future developments of