India’s favourite morning pick-me-up is set to give some serious nightmares to its policymakers.

New Delhi Scientists, farmer bodies and industry associations alike have slammed the parliamentary panel on agriculture for suggesting a probe into the go-ahead for commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal, India's first genetically-modified food crop. They have also criticised its recommendation for a ban on the field trials of such crops,terming the report as “unscientific and partisan”.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had approved commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal in 2009, but the then environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, had put an indefinite moratorium on the decision following protests.

New Delhi If Central and state taxes and generous subsidies coexist in India’s fuel sector, the food sector is no different.

Various state-level taxes on grain procurement inflate the Centre’s food subsidy bill — a major component of its revenue expenditure — by almost 14 per cent, finds a Financial Express analysis. Besides, private traders in high-tax states like Punjab and Haryana stop buying grain, to the detriment of farmers. Worse, tax proceeds are seldom used in the food and farm sectors and get diverted to other programmes.

New Delhi The food ministry will seek approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for offering subsidy on wheat exports to ease storage in choked warehouses, and approach the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) to allocate additional grains through ration shops.

“It was felt that since offering subsidy on exports from the government reserves is a larger and more sensitive issue, which also involves funds, the proposal should go to the CCEA even though the EGoM on food is headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee,”

New Delhi Punjab, the grain bowl of India, is in danger of losing the coveted tag as depleting groundwater levels force the state to seriously consider reducing the planting of water-intensive paddy crop in the medium-to-long term to avoid a disaster.

After a recent meeting with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Planning Commission has decided to send a team of experts to the state to review the problem and suggest ways to tackle it, official sources told FE.

New Delhi With no political consensus as yet to allow the foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, India needs to undertake structural reforms urgently to curb food inflation that surged to a 15-month high of 10.49% in April on dearer vegetables and protein-based products.

Economists said these reforms should focus on four fundamental aspects: raising productivity, curbing wastages, better distribution and delivery system, and ensuring fair returns to producers to keep them engaged in the farm sector.

New Delhi The government is set to lift a ban on fresh cotton export registration, although efforts to resolve the controversial issue amicably by putting a cap on further shipments eluded a consensus on Sunday, a day before the meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss farm exports.

While agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is pitching for the complete removal of ban on fresh export registration in the year through September, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and commerce and textile minister Anand Sharma are in favour of allowing fresh licences up to two million bales to balance the interest of farmers with textile mills, sources said.

New Delhi The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has hailed India’s efforts in achieving an all-time high grain production of 250.42 million tonne in the year through June, and pledged its support to root out hunger in the country.

In a letter to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva has expressed the organisation’s willingness to work with the ministry to “strengthen field efficiency and secure sustainability of smallholder farmers’ benefits”.

New Delhi The agriculture ministry is seeking higher budgetary allocation to ramp up the focus on farm mechanisation and sustainable agricultural schemes in the next financial year, as the country