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«Exposure visit for farmers Fifty selected cashew farmers from different parts of the State embarked upon an exposure visit to Goa and Maharashtra ...»

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Exposure visit for farmers

Fifty selected cashew farmers from different parts of the State embarked

upon an exposure visit to Goa and Maharashtra under the guidance of Kerala

Agricultural University’s Cashew Research Station (CRS).

The farmers who left Thrissur on April 6 will visit cashew plantations in

Goa and Maharashtra.

P.B. Pushpalatha, professor and head, CRS, Madakkathara said that the oneweek long exposure visit, funded by Cocoa-Cashew Development

Directorate under the Union government, will help farmers get familiarised with Asia’s largest cashew nursery, modern farming techniques and feni production technology. – Staff Reporter Naxal-hit village to get new facilities The Amasebail Charitable Trust, which aims at turning the naxal-affected Amasebail into a model village, would be launching various development works on April 10.

The trust, Amasebail Gram Panchayat, Karnataka Bank and Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) have together contributed for the development works at Amasebail in Kundapur taluk.

Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, A.G. Kodgi, former MLA and president of the Trust, said the works that would be inaugurated in the village include a Backward Classes girls’ hostel, a bus stand, an agricultural market, a bio-gas plant, drinking water facility, an autorickshaw stand and a taxi stand. These facilities would be inaugurated by Urban Development Minister Vinay Kumar Sorake, Fisheries Minister Abhayachandra Jain and former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde. Besides these, foundation stone would be laid for construction of a fish market on the occasion.

Model village The trust, established in 2006, began implementing development projects in

2008. In the last seven years, the Trust alone had spent Rs. 91.64 lakh on the work. Besides this, funds were also made available by the government, SKDRDP and Karnataka Bank.

Since he hailed from the village, Mr. Kodgi wanted to make it a model village by providing all basic facilities there. “There is a lot of migration of people from the villages to towns and cities.

This can be stopped only when better facilities are provided in the villages.

When better facilities are provided, it automatically improves the standard of living of the people in the villages,” he said.

While the Trust had provided many facilities for the benefit of people in the village in the last seven years, there had been some failures also. It had not been possible to get a list of persons without sites.

The efforts to get drinking water through Multi Village Scheme had drawn a blank. The attempts to install solar street lamps throughout the village had not succeeded.

There were 1,600 houses in the village, but 50 houses were yet to have a toilet. The efforts to maintain cleanliness in the village had not yielded the desired results due to lack of cooperation of the people. “Yet we will continue with our efforts,” Mr. Kodgi said.

Dugge Gowda, director of district unit of SKDRDP, said the SKDRDP had constructed 180 toilets and installed 80 bio-gas plants in the village.

Hygiene, safety, themes of World Health Day celebrations Puducherry observed World Health Day with several programmes on the World Health Organization-observed theme of ‘Food Safety’ on Tuesday.

The Department Of Public Health Dentistry and the NSS unit of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Dental Science in association with the Puducherry Municipality, organised a health camp at Gandhi Thidal.

Around 100 sanitation workers of the Puducherry Municipality were vaccinated against Hepatitis B, according to a press release from the organisers. Oral health screening was done for around 500 people, it said.

Pamphlets were distributed on food safety standards among food vendors around Beach Road. The programme was attended by Local Administration Department Director P.T. Rudra Goud and Puducherry Municipality Commissioner R. Chandirasekaran.

Various aspects of food safety were discussed at the panel discussion organised by the Institution of Public Health Engineers India – Chennai Puducherry Regional Centre, with the Vinayaka Missions Sikkim University, in association with the Public Works Department.

“The food chain parameters from the agricultural field to the dining table like avoiding pesticides, artificial ripening using carbides, prevention of contamination require continuous advocacy and a sustainable Information Education Communication strategy,” said Local Administration Minister N.G. Pannirselvam at the programme, according to a press release.

Decoding plant’s gravity sensor Research aboard the space station may illuminate the mystery of a plant's "sixth sense", literally turning plant gravity-sensing research on its head.

Plants do have a unique sense of gravity, which is being tested in space.

Researchers with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will conduct a second run of the Plant Gravity Sensing study after new supplies are delivered by the sixth SpaceX commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station.

"Plants cultivated in space are not experienced with gravity or the direction of gravity and may not be able to form gravity sensors that respond to the specific direction of gravity changes," said Hitoshi Tatsumi, principal investigator of the Plant Gravity Sensing investigation.

The research team seeks to determine how plants sense their growth direction without gravity.

The study results may have implications for higher crop yield in farming and for cultivating plants for long-duration space missions.

The investigation examines the cellular process of formation in thale cress, a small flowering plant related to cabbage.

Scientists hypothesise that the process in which amyloplast - particles within the plant cell that store and synthesise starch for energy - distributes and assembles occurs in the direction of gravitational pull.

If the study hypothesis is proven true, it may be possible to modify plant gravity-sensing mechanisms on Earth or to cultivate healthy plants for consumption on future deep space missions or conceivably on other planets.IANS Kisan Rally The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) is pulling out all the stops in its endeavour to motivate its cadres and leaders to go to New Delhi and participate in the ‘Kisan Rally’ at the Ramlila Maidan on April 19. A special train is also being arranged for the purpose.

The rally is to protest against the ordinance proposing amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. Chairing a preparatory meeting at Gandhi Bhavan, the Congress headquarters here on Tuesday, TPCC president N.

Uttam Kumar Reddy and working president Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka explained how the ordinance proposed amendments that were completely ‘anti-farmer’ and how it would empower the government to have the ultimate say while acquiring lands.

KAU launches herbal face pack It’s good news for beauty conscious people. Coinciding with World Health Day, the Kerala Agricultural University’s (KAU) medicinal plant research unit here has come out with an organic face pack.

Christened ‘Mukhasree,’ the cosmetic is made from indigenous herbs cultivated at the unit.

This is the fifth commercially viable product from the unit.

Dr. Koshy Abraham, Associate Dean, College of Horticulture (CoH), officially launched the product by handing it over to Pournami, Students Union joint secretary.

Germplasm collection The All India Coordinated Research Product (AICRP) on medicinal plants at the CoH is well known for germplasm collection and conservation of all herbs and medicinal plants.

Apart from supplying planting materials of medicinal plants, the unit has already launched unique products like popular cool drink concentrate Narunandi syrup, skin cure oil Danthapala Velichenna, hair nourishing oil, herbal shampoo and herbal remedy for cough.

M.T. Kanakamony, Head of AICRP on medicinal plants, said the unit was getting ready to enhance the production of these herbal products in tune with the increasing demand.

Residents pay more to enjoy king of fruits Residents wanting to buy Konkan alphonso mangoes have to pay anywhere from Rs500 to Rs 1,500 per dozen (as per size and quality). The increase in price, compared to Rs 300-600 per dozen last year, is due to decrease in supply of mangoes from Devgad and Ratnagiri. The unseasonal rain and hailstorm damaged the crops resulting in lesser supply.

Considering the supply crunch, traders are getting consignments from Karnataka, but the quality is not as good.

Traders and farmers are expecting an increase in the supply after mid-April, which may reduce the price. However, many believe that it is not possible to match the supply with demand, as over 50% of the crop was destroyed by the sudden rains.

According to sources, last year, around one lakh boxes of mangoes were sold daily from mid-April till end of May. Now traders are expecting around 60,000 boxes from April 15, which may reduce the price a bit.

"Supply has been less compared to demand. Only 30% of the produce is of good quality and it is sold at prime rates, the remaining 70% is found to be faulty," said Sanjay Pansare, former director of APMC.

Traders say shortage will be felt more in May due to loss of fresh crops and opening of exports in European market. Omkar Sapre, board member, Devgad Taluka Amba Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit, said "It's extremely difficult to predict the quantity of damage. The erratic weather has affected the harvest badly."

Forest dept’s ‘e-relief’ project to cut short farmers’ wait time Soon, farmers may not have to face undue delay in receiving compensation for crops damaged by wild animals, thanks to a mobile application enabled pilot project to be implemented in Coimbatore that would cut the wait time by ten days.

At present, it takes a minimum of two months for farmers to receive their compensation, which in the worst case scenario, prolongs to one year. The forest department has planned to introduce 'e-compensation' for crop damage on pilot basis in Perianaickenpalayam forest range this week.

As per the project, the department would provide two mobile phones with advanced applications to foresters. The forest staff can take photographs of crop damage using their mobile phones, upload the pictures along with their observations online, facilitating easy computation and disbursal of compensation.

With crop damage by wild animals increasing with each passing year, the delay in disbursing compensation is also increasing. District forest officer M Senthilkumar said that this app would speed up the compensation process.

"Farmers who suffer crop damage can give a missed call to the two mobile phones. Besides taking photographs, the extent of damage can be accurately measured with the help of GPS. The date and time of the forester's visit would also be recorded through the application,'' he said. The DFO would receive an alert once a missed call is made. A similar mobile with the DFO would keep blinking until the forest staff visit the spot and enter the damage data. "This would enable the forest staff to act in a timely manner,'' he said.

Crop damage by elephant herds and wild boars has become a menace in villages abutting forests. Hundreds of acres of crops like plantain, coconut and maize in Karamadai, Mettupalayam, Sirumugai, Perianaickenpalayam and Boluvampatti get damaged every year. In 2014 - 15 alone 1crore was disbursed as crop damage compensation in Coimbatore forest sub division compared to 40lakh the previous year.

The forest department provides 25,000 as compensation for an acre of paddy crop damaged and 600 for each coconut tree damaged. Vivasayigal Sangam general secretary P Kandasamy said some farmers from Pannimadai and Varapalayam have not received compensation for more than a year.

When farmers suffer crop damage, they must inform foresters and the agriculture department. Field officers from the agriculture department would assess the damage and issue a certificate. The farmers need to obtain a certificate from the village administrative officer before they apply for compensation from the conservator of forests.

"We plan to hold talks with revenue and agriculture department officers to expedite the process of issuing certificates,'' said a forest officer. Once the farmers receive the certificate from the agriculture and revenue departments, they must submit them to the range officers and the applications would be processed immediately, said Senthilkumar.

Forestors can take photos of the destroyed field, upload it with their observation and the compensation would be made accordingly A.Subburaj@timesgroup.com Wheat output likely to decline by 5%, says Agriculture Minister Unseasonal rain, hailstorm play spoilsport withRabi crop Domestic wheat production is likely to slide by almost 5 per cent after significant tracts across key wheat-growing States, such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, were damaged by unseasonal rainfall and hailstorms through much of last month.

Agriculture Ministry officials estimated that 421 districts across 69 per cent of the country received excess rainfall between March 1 and April 1.

Rabi crops on nearly 113 lakh hectares (lh) of a total cultivable 600 lh have been damaged, they said.

“According to initial reports received from the States after the rains, estimates show that wheat output could be 4-5 per cent lower this year,” Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said during an address at a conference on Kharif crops here on Tuesday. He said the estimate was preliminary and officials would visit the affected regions to make a final assessment.

In its second advance estimates, the Ministry has pegged wheat output at

95.76 million tonnes (mt) in 2014-15 (July-June), marginally lower than the record 95.85 mt registered in 2013-14.

Australian imports According to reports, India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, recently bought 80,000 tonnes of the grain from Australia. Mustard and seasonal vegetables and fruits were damaged by heavy showers, the latter category more likely to fuel food inflation that has averaged 5.3 per cent this year.

Procurement norms Singh added that States have adequate funds under the State Disaster Response Fund to provide financial assistance to affected farmers.

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