Agriculture Current Affair 31 August 2022

Centre targets to procure 51.8 millon tonnes of kharif rice

Asks States to purchase 1.37 million tonnes of coarse grains

The Centre has set the procurement target for kharif-grown rice for the 2022-23 season (October-September) to 51.8 million tonnes (mt) from the current season’s purchase of 51 mt. The higher target is despite the apprehension of lower production of the cereal after sowing has been affected in major growing States due to deficient rainfall or delayed monsoon rains.

Significant reduction in debt burden, says Coffee Day Enterprises

CDEL reduced its debt level to ₹1,810 crore as on March 31, 2022

The debt level of Coffee Day Enterprises has been reduced “significantly” to ₹1,810 crore as on March 31, the company said in its latest annual report.

However, there have been certain defaults in repayments of principal and interest of the loans, and certain lenders have exercised their rights, including recalling the loans, Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd (CDEL) said.

“The debt levels have reduced significantly from ₹7,214 crore as on March 31, 2019 to ₹1,898 crore as at the end of March 31, 2021 and to ₹1,810 crore as of March 31, 2022,” CDEL added.

Following a circular from market regulator SEBI, CDEL, on April 6, 2022, disclosed defaults on interest payments and repayment of principal amount on loans from banks, financial institutions and unlisted debt securities for the March quarter.

“As per the disclosure, the company has defaulted in payment of interest and principal amounting to ₹230.66 crore on loans/cash credits from banks/financial institutions and ₹249.02 crore towards non-convertible debentures,” it said.

Moreover, CDEL has informed that ₹ 3,430.67 crore due by Mysore Amalgamated Coffee Estates Limited (MACEL, to various subsidiaries and a joint venture of the company, is yet to be recovered.

It has asked its subsidiaries and one joint venture firm to file suit against MACEL for recovery following the recommendation of Justice H N Nagamohandas.

BL Explainer: All you wanted to know about PMBJP

What is the rationale behind the Centre’s move on bringing all fertiliser products under single Bharat brand

Last week, the Centre quietly rolled out a new scheme — Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna (PMBJP) — through an office memorandum, which was not even posted on the website. Henceforth, there will be a single brand of all fertiliser products in the country.

What is PMBJP?

The existing fertiliser subsidy is now covered under the PMBJP scheme. Earlier, the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) was categorised under urea (N), phosphorous (P) and potash (K) and there was no such name. Subsidy will be continued under NBS policy, as there is no change in it. There will be only one brand, Bharat, which, the government claims, will generate trust among the farmers.

When is it being rolled out?

The government has decided to roll it out from October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti), as its focus on making the country atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) in fertiliser goes with the ethos of what the Father of the Nation had espoused. The rabi season’s sowing starts from October and buying of fertilisers also starts from the first week.

How does it work?

Under PMBJP, all fertilisers — urea, DAP, MOP and Complex (combination of N.P,K) — will be sold under a single “Bharat” brand. For instance, IFFCO’s urea will be called “Bharat Urea”, so also IPL’s MOP will become “Bharat MOP”. The government has shared the design of the bag, where two-thirds of the space will be used for the brand and logo, while companies can print their name and details in the balance one-third area.

The logo will also mention Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna in Hindi. Companies have been advised not to procure bags having old designs from September 15, and all old bags need to be phased out by December 31.

What is the rationale behind this move?

The government thinks that farmers are not aware of the subsidy spent on fertilisers by the Centre, to make those available at cheaper rates. Farmers will now concentrate on fertilisers, not on company-based brand, officials said.

Urea subsidy, which is borne by the Centre as it decides the selling price at which farmers should get irrespective of cost of production, is as high as 89 per cent while farmers pay only 11 per cent of its actual costs when they buy a bag of 45 kg at ₹242.

Similarly, in the case of DAP, the government claims to bear a subsidy of ₹2,500 per 50-kg bag (65 per cent of cost) and farmers pay ₹1,350/bag (35 per cent). For MOP, the government subsidy is ₹759/50-kg bag (30 per cent) and farmers buy at ₹1,750/bag (70 per cent).

How has been the reaction to this decision by the Government?

Companies have not objected to it so far, even though they had expressed their reservations during consultation. As long as their products are sold in the market, they are comfortable with whatever the government directs them to do. Since the country is dependent on imports, companies have the impression that there will not be any problem in selling their products. However, most of the companies are not ready to spend on advertisements since they think the products can be sold without competition, similar to the rice, wheat sold through ration shops.

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