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Adopting genetically-modified crop applications

ICAR-Directorate of Coldwater Fisheries Research, Bhimtal demonstrated culture of rainbow trout in the remote tribal village Sarmoli in Munsyari, Distt. Pithoragarh, Uttarakhandtoday to establish rainbow trout farming for the first time in the region for the underprivileged tribal farmers.

Rainbow trout raceways and eyed ova house established by this Directorate was inaugurated on the occasion by Shri C.Ravishankar, IAS, District Magistrate, Pithoragarh in presence of Smt.TaraPangtey, Sh.SriramDharamsaktu and other distinguished persons and social workers of the region.

More than 200 farmers including women self help group from Munsyari and Dharchula took part in the programme and acquired practical hands on training on trout farming.

Dr. Debajit Sarma, Director (Act.), ICAR-DCFR, Bhimtal explained the trout farming activities and opined that adoption of trout fish farming in such a remote hilly region will increase the fish production in the state which in turn will improve the socioeconomic status of the rural tribal people inhabiting in the upland region. Kaveri Seed Company, the only seed firm listed on Indian stock exchanges, is the market leader in the southern part of the country, besides Maharashtra. The seed producer’s chairman and managing director G.V. Bhaskar Rao says product performance is the only means to earn farmer loyalty, which also enables the company to win market share from competitors. Edited excerpts:

What has been the impact of the monsoons over the last two cycles. What do you think will be the impact this year?
After two years of drought, India witnessed normal monsoon in kharif 2017, returning optimism to the rural sector and improving farmer sentiment. It was one of the best years for cotton. Though the average rainfall pattern during this year was normal, rainfall distribution was uneven. A dry spell prevailed during the month of August, which is a crucial crop growth period, affecting the rain-fed crops like cotton, pulses, bajra, etc. Central and North part of India received excess rainfall in September, which impacted yield and quality of cotton crop. Monsoon has arrived in time for kharif 2018 and rainfalls are expected to be normal, according to IMD forecasts.

What do you think about cotton acreages in India and the way forward for cotton farmers?
FY 2017-18 was one of the best years for cotton in terms of acreages. We expect overall industry acreages to be 10% sideways for the next five years. Also, cotton price continues be very lucrative and cotton remains the highest ROI crop in India. Kaveri Seeds will maintain leadership in southern India, has plenty of room to make strong market share gains in Central and Western India, and will make meaningful entry in northern India as well.

What are the various crops farmers are concentrating on and how does Kaveri Seeds help them achieve a good yield?
Cotton, maize, rice, sunflower, pearl millet and vegetables account for a majority of the revenues of the Indian hybrid seed industry. We are among the top three seeds companies in cotton, maize, sunflower, and pearl millet/bajra segments, and top five in the rice segment. We will gain market share in vegetables driven by new hybrids across hot pepper, okra, tomato, sweet corn and gourds. We have actively undertaken focussed training of field assistants for educating farmers across geographies on integrated crop management, advanced agronomic practices, pest resistance techniques, and product knowledge, to increase yields and income.

How do you see Kaveri Seeds contributing to the betterment of farmers?
Though seed is the most low-cost input for farmer, it is the most critical input. We have been, over the past several years, providing farmers with high quality high yield seeds which has helped reduce their wastages, improve crop yields and income. We participate in and sponsor agricultural fairs at state and district levels aimed at disseminating knowledge on integrated crop management, new technologies, better farming techniques, advanced agronomic practices, pest resistance techniques and product knowledge to increase yield and income among farmers. These public gatherings are organised in collaboration with the State Department of Agriculture, SAUs and ICAR institutions.

After the cotton revolution, what do you think would be the next big game-changer for farmers?
Rice is the largest crop under cultivation in India and is the staple food for a large population. Rice hybrid seed is the most under-penetrated category in India with only 6% penetration. Other countries have 50% plus of the rice area under hybridisation and in China, 65% of the rice area is under hybridisation, providing for significant scope in India. Hybrid rice is gaining increased acceptance and market for both selection variety rice, and hybrid rice is growing rapidly. We are addressing both segments of paddy market and have an extensive portfolio of products in hybrid rice and selection rice to take advantage of this opportunity. Maize is the most widely grown crop worldwide. India is the world’s sixth largest producer and fifth largest consumer of maize. Maize acreage has grown in India over the years as it is highly adaptable to different seasons, requires less water, and is easy to grow with a good commodity price. Demand for maize in India is expected to continue to grow due to demand from the feed industry and export opportunity. Hybrid vegetable seed is one of the fastest growing segments in India estimated to be about ₹2,000 crore. India is the second largest producer of vegetables in the world after China. Vegetables are round-the-year crop and enable safeguarding from crop shift patterns.

How do you see the future of hybridisation of seeds in India?
Rice, maize and vegetable crops are highly under-penetrated in terms of hybridisation. India’s increasing population, arable land and willingness of the farmer to adopt newer technologies provides multifold opportunities in rice, maize and vegetables.

What are the steps you have taken to address the Pink Bollworm challenge affecting crops?
The issue is not restricted to hybrids, but farming practices the farmer adopts. So, we have increased farmer awareness programmes to prevent the impact of Pink Bollworm. We are educating farmers to be proactive and take preventive measures rather than reactive measures.


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