Skip to main content

Free flow of wheat (The Hindu)

 The Centre’s decision to waive import duty on wheat has predictably attracted flak. Opposition parties have questioned the move, which comes days after the government’s assertion that demonetisation of high-value currency notes did not impact the sowing of the rabi crop, with a greater area being cultivated compared to the same time a year ago. Assembly polls are due soon in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, both large wheat-producing States, making this a plausible rallying point for the Opposition. Farmer unions have warned of dumping of wheat stock in India at a time when the minimum support price (Rs.1,625 a quintal) is higher than international prices. This, they argue, could lead to distress sales when the current crop is harvested over March-April. The government, on its part, has noted concerns about the warmer winter forecast, which could affect wheat output and trigger inflation. This February, when prices of food articles that make up 46 per cent of the consumer price index were cooling off, the government expected the trend to continue if the monsoon was normal after two years of drought. Now at year-end, following a normal monsoon, inflation remains under control but wheat prices have been moving up swiftly. There is no doubt that fiddling too often with wheat import duties — from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, then back to 10 per cent and finally to zero, all within 500 days — sends mixed signals to farmers and traders, though the latter group will be pleased with the duty-free regime. But equally, it is necessary to change one’s mind when the situation so demands, which it currently does. A record global harvest has lowered wheat prices internationally. With a higher MSP, and speculation about a less-than-adequate harvest domestically, the government is obviously keen on avoiding a surge in inflation following the demonetisation process. With imports remaining duty-free, it is now clear to traders that hoarding reserves and profiteering from the systemic stress won’t pay for long, even though it will take a couple of months or so for the first such shipments to arrive from overseas. Farmers busy with the rabi sowing season may not rally to political provocations immediately. But by the time they harvest the crop four months from now, the Centre would be well-advised to spruce up its procurement act, and raise awareness about the MSP mechanism. A longer-term action plan is needed to increase India’s wheat yields, which in most States are lower than in China and Bangladesh. Post a Comment


Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…