Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Taming Food Inflation

Food inflation, which remains remarkably high at over 12 per cent, could be tamed through innovative agriculture business models, a KPMG report has stated. The report -- Taming Food Inflation Through Innovative Agri-business Models -- highlighted that reduction in farm investment, lack of infrastructure, lower productivity, sub-optimal technology usage and failed policy focus are some of the key factors contributing to food inflation. 

"Despite a good monsoon and increased production in FY 2010-11, food inflation in India remains remarkably high. Inflation in food products has been either a direct or an indirect consequence of various factors on both the demand and supply side," the report noted. However, a few companies have converted the supply-demand challenges impacting food prices into an opportunity through the innovation path, it said, adding that their business models have helped address bottlenecks to some extent. "It may be useful to apply learnings from such case studies to the broader market context leading to an effective and efficient food value chain," said the report, which was released at the ninth Knowledge Millennium Summit here today. 

Citing some of the innovative business-models, the report said that in the absence of growth in public investment in agriculture and allied sectors, Coimbatore-based Suguna Poultry Farms solved the problem of funding in poultry sector by introducing 15,000 rural entrepreneurs across 10 states. Whereas Bangalore-based Snowman Frozen Foods Limited, a pioneer in storage and transportation of perishables in the country, is addressing growing complexity in the cold storage management through technology interventions, it said. "The consistent deficiency in investments has led to infrastructure bottlenecks and inefficiencies across the food value chain. The lack of processing, absence of storage facilities lead to wastage of approximately 35% fruits and vegetables produce" the report observed.

To address the low productivity of land resources, as many as "19 Indian agricultural companies have gone international in their search for land to create ultra-large scale farms", the report said. China is following a similar route and acquiring large tracts of agricultural land in South America while India is focusing on fertile lands of the African subcontinent.

Back home, Jalgaon-based Jain Irrigation is promoting an affordable small scale irrigation system with high efficiency of water usage to address the issue of scarcity of water and irrigation facilities in the country, it said. Gujarat-based N-Mart is attempting to solve the fragmented supply chain leading to price build up through network based sales, the report added.

Agri-business is a $450 billion opportunity in India, the report said, adding that a developed sector can be a strong link between the farm sector and consumers.  

The complete report is available at :

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Short term crop # 3 : Moringa

We planted Moringa (Drumsticks) saplings on a 7 acre plot early February. There are two types of Moringas - Annual and Perennial. The former is a shrub that yields once a year while the latter is a tree that yields every year (without having to replant it). We decided to proceed with the Perennial version known as PAVM for two main reasons.

Harvesting Tonnage : This variety has the highest estimated yeild amoung Moringa of upto 100Kgs per tree annually. We may try out Ultra High Density (UHD) cultivation in future if it is proven to be effective.
Water Requirement : PAVM requires less irrigation with initial yeilds starting as soon as 6th month.

Although Brinjal and Watermelon are seasonal and short duration crops, they are fairly demanding in regards to plant protection, pest management and labour requirement. Given minimal resource requirements, regular harvest and healthy revenue projections, Moringa could be a 'star crop'. We are trying out this under organic cultivation using organic pesticides and panchkavya.

More to come around our Moringa efforts in the coming months. Follow the link below which introduced us to this crop. We met Mr Alagarsamy some time back and toured his farm as part of our market research. PAVM variety was developed by him and is said to be cultivated across several thousand acres in Tamil Nadu. For those who live in Tamil Nadu, his nursery is situated 35 KM from Madurai towards Dindigul on National Highway.

Additional details and contact details about Mr Alagarsamy are available at :

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Keeping up with TNEB Power schedule..

"Free agri power to one and all" is a common manifesto across political parties during pre-elections. Free agri power is great but the glitch is unavailability of  'reliable and predictable' power supply.
Power situation in Tamil Nadu is detriorating by the day with cuts lasting 8-10 hours a day in rural areas. At Sivagangai, power schedule changes every Monday. So far we have recorded 4 combinations that TNEB has followed in the last few months. The picture below says it all..

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Update on Watermelon..

Our second short term crop was sowed in 3rd week of December. In case you missed it, you can look up http://techie2aggie.blogspot.in/2011/12/watermelon-short-term-crop-2.html

Today is the 50th day and the growth has been good so far. This year the crop in TN has been affected due to excessive morning dew and Cyclone Thane (which occured last week of December). One would think that due to lesser supply, the market rate would be higher; however, influx of watermelons from Karanataka and AP has kept the rate fairly constant.

At 26 days..

Flowering was first seen at 28 days. Flower on the left is female while the other one is male flower. Unlike Brinjal, watermelon is a cross pollinated crop.

At 40 days.

Healthy green foliage at 43 days.

So far we have not had any serious pest issues. Red spider mites were seen occasionally on the back side of the leaves. Detecting these can be challenging especially in red soil. Simba 2ml/L was used for this. In the first 20 days, green caterpillars were noticed, Larvin 2g/L was used to control them. A few leaf miners were seen as well for which any systemic insecticide can be used.

Deficiency of Boron leads to splitting of fruits. A couple of fruits were found to be cracked a few days back. Solubor, which is water soluble will be applied along with the fertigation that we give every 3 days.

In another 20-30 days, we hope to harvest the crop. More updates then!