Agriculture Current Affair 18 October 2021

Agritech startups: Think beyond organic, think hydroponics

The Pelican had just begun to take off when Cyclone Fani struck the eastern coast of India in 2019. Haraprasad Mohapatra, a retired master mariner from Teisipur in Odisha, had started Pelican Aeroponic Farms just a year ago to grow exotic vegetables such as lettuce, kale, basil, cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.

Gusty winds and rains breached Pelican’s ‘poly houses’ (a type of greenhouse with specialised polythene sheet covering), and the ‘grow towers’ were left in a complete disarray. Mohapatra’s farm measures just 700 square metres, but it can hold nearly 4,000 plants and grow up to 100 kg of vegetables a day. Small landholding had prompted the one-time seafarer to try aeroponics—with ‘grow towers’ that enabled him to grow the crop vertically.

“The cyclone wiped out the entire farm. I am trying to set it up again… We have started growing different varieties of lettuces, cherry tomatoes and jalapenos,” says Mohapatra.

‘Onion prices being stabilised with buffer stock release; efforts on to soften tomato, potato rates’

Amid a rise in prices of three key vegetables, the Centre on Sunday said onion prices are being stabilised with the release of buffer stock, while efforts are on to soften the rates of tomato and potato.

Onion stocks are being released in the market on the first-in-first-out basis in a calibrated manner from the last week of August in a bid to moderate prices and ensure minimum storage loss, it said. As a result of this, the retail onion price was ruling in the range of Rs 42-57 per kg in metros on October 14. The all-India average retail price of onion was ruling at Rs 37.06 per kg, while the average wholesale rate was Rs 30 per kg on October 14, it added.

In retail markets, onion was ruling at Rs 42 per kg in Chennai, Rs 44 per kg in Delhi, at Rs 45 per kg in Mumbai and Rs 57 per kg in Kolkata on October 14. In a statement, the food and consumer affairs ministry said buffer stock of onion is being released in states where prices ruled above all-India average and also where prices are rising over the previous month. “Till October 12, a total of 67,357 tonnes have been released in major markets such as Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Kochi and Raipur,” it said.

Indian tea exports may witness recovery as Kenyan government fixes minimum reserve price

India’s tea exports, which suffered heavily owing to availability of Kenyan tea at lower prices in the global markets, may witness a recovery as the Kenyan government has fixed a minimum reserve price for tea to protect the interest of tea producers in the country.

The Kenya Tea Development Agency has set a minimum reserve price of $2.43 (about Rs 183) per kg for processed tea at the Mombasa auction.

The sharp price difference between the Indian and Kenyan teas has therefore narrowed down and Indian producers have started receiving export enquiries from West Asia, Russia, Kazakhstan and the US for black tea. This year, Indian tea had faced a tough competition from Kenyan tea as its prices were Rs 250-300 per kg while Kenyan tea was priced at less than Rs 150 per kg.

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