Agriculture Current Affair 4 January 2023

Weather uncertainties grip agri sector in 2022; food grain supplies, crop prospects look bright

Wheat and paddy crops withered, and retail prices surged this year as vagaries of the weather clouded the country’s agriculture sector growth, triggering various policy measures, including export curbs, to efficiently manage foodgrain supplies in the recovering economy.

If farm laws were the reason for the sector to hog headlines in 2021, this year, a raft of factors dotted the agriculture-food firmament. While rain deficit and heatwaves in winter hit production of a few major crops, Russia-Ukraine conflict pushed higher the prices of many commodities and fertilisers.

Amid high inflation, the government provided additional five kilograms of foodgrains free to more than 80 crore people through 2022 under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which is ending on Saturday.

Rice prices up 15%, Palm oil seen rising too

Rice and palm oil are becoming more expensive in India. In the last one month, the price of rice has increased by up to 15 per cent, while that of palm oil is seen rising by Rs 5-7 a litre in the coming weeks.

The basmati variety of rice is selling at a record high of Rs 110 per kg as compared with Rs 95 per kg a month ago. Traders attribute this to rice millers building stocks in anticipation of better prices in the world market as floods in Pakistan have damaged the country’s rice crop.

“This is happening despite hardly any orders from Iran, one of the biggest markets for Indian basmati rice,” said Suraj Agarwal, CEO of Rice Villa Group, a rice marketing and exporting firm.

Safex Chemicals to invest Rs 100 cr in agri-tech segment in next 3-4 years

Agrochemicals maker Safex Chemicals Ltd on Tuesday said it plans to invest Rs 100 crore in its new agri-tech arm, AgCare Technologies, in the next 3-4 years for launching an interactive tech platform and for setting up a manufacturing unit. Speaking to PTI, the company’s Group Director Piyush Jindal said, “We are investing Rs 100 crore from our own kitty. We are not raising any funds. The investment is planned for the next 3-4 years.”

The plan is to launch an interactive technology platform to integrate the entire value chain in the agri-economy. Key stakeholders, especially farmers, can buy quality crop protection products and get services like weather updates, experts’ help and mandi rates on this platform, he said.

“A pilot study of this interactive tech platform will be conducted in January-March. We plan to go live in the next fiscal year,” Jindal said, adding that the platform will be expanded in a phased manner.

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