Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan battles food crisis

The Japan’s socio-economic structure was destroyed by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuke disaster. The thousands of people were died, millions of hearts were broken, dreams shattered, their lives distressed and still they are fighting with earthquakes and nuclear catastrophe. The terrible disaster brought horrific changes in people lives, they are moving miles together from their homes to shelters to defend from profound nuclear debacle. In the viewpoint of food, Japan is not self sufficient and 60% of its food requirements are fulfilled by the imports even though it has some domestic agriculture production. Now the country is in deep crisis in agriculture and food security by tsunami and ongoing nuclear catastrophe.

Rice is also an important food staple for Japanese and the most rice growing crop land (Miyagi prefecture) was destroyed by the tsunami. The Sendai region is suffering with extensive destruction of grain warehouses, fishing ports, food processing and livestock facilities. The second problem is ongoing nuclear radiation leakage in Fukushima nuclear plant (Fukushima prefecture), the nuclear plant radiation exposure may damage to humans, soil, land, agriculture, forests, fisheries and livestock. The government halted the sale of all foods from the farms near ruined nuclear plant since they found high level of radiation in milk and spinach. Some of the major ports were closed due to disaster that is also caused to disruption of food supplies and delays in shipments.

Japan’s food security is in critical point, Japan is one of the biggest food importers and it buys lot of wheat, corn and pork from USA, China and Australia. Japan may want to import more food to meet their demand since its own agriculture facilities are in turmoil and that could have a significant impact on worldwide grain prices. Indeed, the Japan shouldn’t face any food crisis, all nations should stand united and they need to take a global action on emerging food crisis in Japan. Some of the countries extended ban on grain exports to protect their population against the food shortages, but they should be generous and flexible towards crisis in Japan.

As per data 2009, 4 percent of the people in Japan are engaged in agriculture and the farm contribution is only 1 percent of their GDP. Japan should focus on self sufficient in food grains and huge investments must be required in agriculture and live stock production to prevent food vulnerability. I hope all developed nation and organizations will respond immediately with all kind of necessities and technical assistance to reinstate the Japan.We wish that Japan will be normal and emerge stronger than before.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tobacco crop is injurious to AP farmers wealth

Tobacco is one of the best cash crops in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the Tobacco crop is less perishable and the yield and value is high per acre. The Tobacco auction system is one of the best among the agriculture produces markets in India. The sale is guaranteed, the price is negotiated and determined among the traders and farmers in supervision of Tobacco board. Every year the Tobacco board fixes the crop size to protect the interests of traders, growers and public health.

Normally Tobacco board arranges the convention with growers and traders to discuss the market related issues before the market opens. In this year meeting, the farmers demanded their remunerative price shouldn’t be less than Rs.150.00 per kg for higher variety. As per my understanding… this year tobacco crop quality is good, the yields also lesser than the fixed crop size and the traders have enough quantity of export orders, so the farmers have justified reason to ask for remunerative price of Rs.150.00. The markets were opened on Feb24th and the traders bid their price not more than Rs.120 per kg for higher grades. The farmers were stopped the auction and they have protested for better price since the plantation and processing expenses have gone up by 20% in this year.

Recently the Tobacco Board reopened the auction centers by the force of traders to continue the market with the same low price. Farmers are in misery and they are inescapable condition to sell their crop with the lower rate of Rs.120 per kg. The traders turn into a syndicate and they want to maximize their profits by convincing with fake reasons that the global tobacco yields are high and the buffer stock are still on hold (as usually... they are misguiding the farmers). Tobacco board is showing over enthusiasm to protect the traders by ignoring the farmers’ interests and also the Board has failed to negotiate the trader for getting better price to farmers.

Government of India needs to take necessary steps to help the tobacco farmers in this crisis situation since GOI is getting lot of revenue from local tobacco markets and foreign exchange from exports. The Government has to finance the State Trading Corporation of India or any Tobacco growers’ societies to help the farmers for better price. I strongly support the FDIs in tobacco trade because the farmers will get fair price in the competition of increased traders and manufacturers. If the Government doesn’t curb the traders’ deceitful practices, then the farming tobacco crop is injurious farmers’ wealth.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Markets go online

Andhra Pradesh made a congressional acceptance for E-Trading on Agricultural and livestock produces by amending the Agriculture produce market committee act (APMC). This is a good trend, to integrate the farmers to electronic markets with transparency in prevailing prices. The E- Trading has been implementing in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhyapradesh, Utter Pradesh and Tamil nadu markets. Some of the big horticulture markets like Azadpur mandi in New Delhi and Apple markets in Himachal Pradesh also have been in online trading since several years. Most of the state governments have APMC act to regulate the agriculture produce markets in terms of transparency in transactions, coordinate the demand and supplies and encourage the farmers to produce more. In India, we have 7557 regulated markets consist of 2428 principal markets and 5129 sub yards.

Reforms in agriculture marketing are inevitable process for restructuring the agriculture sector, it’s necessary to upgrade our marketing systems and infrastructure to connect with nationwide markets in the liberalization of our trade policies. Setting up an electronic network among the physical markets is certainly improves the linkage between farmers, food processors and retailers and that can mitigate the mediators’ involvement. Some of the corporate companies have taken the initiative to create the market awareness in farmers i.e. ITC limited has been working with e-choupal Kiosks over 40,000 villages which give the information on weather, modern farm practices and market information. Multi Commodity of Exchange India ltd (MCX) has started the Gramin Suvidha Kendra (GSK) kiosks in 3 northern states which provide the information on warehousing, quality testing, expert advices and MCX spot and futures prices of agriculture produces.

The E-trading system shares the nationwide commodity exchange information to the farmers, so that they can sell their produces according to their choice of market/price and the buyers also can choose the products from different markets with specified quality /quantity. In the E-trading, the regulated markets are connected with National APMC and the trading operations are conducted by the APMC’s licensed traders. Ticker boards would be placed at APMCs which display the current prices of different commodities in different markets and the farmers can select their choices. Some of the markets are supported by the bankers’ online banking facility to manage the trading among the buyers and farmers. The National APMC has to take the trade approval from respective state government on selective commodities. So far, the trading in existing APMCs is on spot basis only and in future the markets may go on forwards trading.

Government needs to give importance to both the farmers and industry equally, when ever the market infrastructure improves then the market efficiency gets progress. If the trading system goes on pace….the storage, transport and processing facilities have to be in the supporting standards but our markets are lacking with modern agri-infrastructure. There is a massive investment expected in the post harvest facilities, the government has to encourage Public Private Partnership model in agriculture marketing and extension activities. Nevertheless, E- Trading is an impressive reform in agriculture markets in Andhra Pradesh but the main drawback of Indian farmers is that they are qualified with mediocre education. I hope, one day the Indian farmer hookup the computer and market his produces directly on internet.
FYI: Agricultural Marketing Information Network  & National Agriculture Produce market Committee
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