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Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Summer Market RoundUp and Trends

Here are a few tid-bits of market info that seem interesting enough to share. Feel free to post your interesting reads below.

In Delhi, two revolutionary ideas were showcased at an agricultural conclave which attracted attention from World Bank and were duly awarded for the groud breaking innovations. One, called Veg Sav, will substantially reduce post-harvest loss of vegetables by using edible film (coat) while the other, 'FishPaneer', is a value added item that can be processed into various products like the way milk paneer is processed in India.

Veg Sav, developed by young farm scientist V Ponvizhi Ramya of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, is a Bacteriophages-based based technology. The presentation, made before experts of ICAR and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) during the conclave, explained that Bacteriophages-based bio-control measurements had great potential to enhance micro-biological safety. It could be coated on vegetables using edible film which does not have any harmful side effect.

Onno Ruhl, World Bank's country director for India, awarded the Veg Sav innovator the first prize for the best presentation while scientist Joshykumar Khangembam of Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, who developed FishPaneer, got the second prize.

FishPaneer is a Surimi-based valued added fish product. Surimi is the Japanese term for de-boned and washed fish meat which is a wet concentrate of proteins. According to the presentation on FishPaneer, the value-added item has the nutritional quality of fish and textual characteristics of milk paneer which made it a unique product. It is a ready-to-cook product which can be processed into various products. "The technology is simple and can be easily adopted," the presentation said.

In Kochi, where malls and shopping centres dot every nook and corner, this new shopping mall is a big deal. The agri mall, proposed by the agriculture department, will serve as a platform for all agricultural products produced in the district. The malls will integrate all agriculture-related activities, products and services under one platform in tune with modern retailing. Citizens will be able to buy fresh and organic vegetable products from these malls where farmers will directly sell their products for fair market price. We have seen similar efforts of direct to customer retailing in Delhi as well.

Fertilisers, plants, seeds, farming and sowing tools, and high-tech farming equipment will also be showcased at these malls. Like regular shopping malls, these malls will have conference halls, multiplexes and food courts. The government plans to attract more people to farming and have brought even farming equipment and services under one umbrella. Besides Maradu and Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam, malls have been planned in Vengeri in Kozhikode and Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad. The proposal will give a big boost to farmers who will benefit from selling goods to end customers without the threat of intermediaries who exploit them. As for consumers, they are assured of fresh and organic products at fair market rates, said Sunil Cyriac, CEO of Ernakulam Farmers Club Association.

Lastly about agri-logistics, though not new in India it currently has a unique positioning. Suddenly India has realized that agri-logistics is not only about trucking instead it is in a new phase where efficient management is the key to success. India loses Rs 60,000 crore worth of dry agri-goods due to poor and inefficient handling/management. The industry is going through a huge transformation.  An integrated model of agri-logistics envisaging farm-level aggregation management, logistics, preservation and shelf management along with agri-financing is the need of the hour.

India is vastly deficient in warehousing. Warehousing activity alone is at around Rs 52,000 crore. India loses around 10% of its annual produce. There is a huge potential in areas such as agri-financing, warehouse receipt financing market, etc. Like any other greenfield industry, the skills do not only vary but are hugely diverse. We cannot just paste Western practices here considering the fact that the average agricultural land holding in India is at 1.33 hectares, that is it is highly fragmented and far below the world average of 3.7 hectares. Our grading practices at the farm level are virtually non-existent. We still hold 6% of our produce in the farmer's household. Besides understanding of the Indian agricultural domain, sharp analytical skills, a keen sense of best economic practices are required, too.

The industry is suffering from talent deficit but the interesting part is that it has a wide set of requirements where a fresh graduate can fetch about Rs 1.5 lakh per annum. At the entry level, an agri-domain graduate can command Rs 3 to 4 lakh per annum. A junior-level person with reasonable analytical skills can draw Rs 18 lakh whereas senior executives with 12 to 15 years' work experience with wide macroeconomic understanding can command about Rs 24 to Rs 30 lakh. Besides this, depending on the domain understanding and a keen sense of data processing capability from a strategic point of view, one can even attract packages which can be the envy of professionals in any other field.

Credits : Times of India

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