New Delhi The Centre’s plan to introduce the National Food Security Bill, which envisages distribution of subsidised foodgrains to more than 63% of the population, in the upcoming winter season of

New Delhi Over 1.7 lakh farmers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, who grow the lucrative Flue Cure Virginia (FCV), have asked for representation in the upcoming WHO framework convention on tobacco control (FCTC) in South Korea during November 12-17.

FCV is the finest quality of tobacco used in cigarettes. Only health ministry officials have been invited to the FCTC meeting that seeks to reduce tobacco crop size across the globe. India, being signatory to the WHO FCTC, has committed to reduce the crop size so that a large chunk of agricultural land used for tobacco production could be used for grain production.

New Delhi: In a bid to bring synergies between various programmes aiming at increasing production of horticultural crops, the government has decided to merge two centrally sponsored schemes — Horti

New Delhi More than half of the irrigation projects that are to be taken up in the current 12th Five-Year Plan are a spillover from the 11th Plan. Huge time and cost overruns are the major cause of concern in the creation of major and minor irrigation projects in the country, a Planning Commission working group on the 12th Plan has stated in its report.

Out of the 583 irrigation projects, including creation of small and medium facilities, and extension, renovation and modernisation (ERM) of the existing ones, that will be taken up during the 12th Plan period (2012-17), 327 are carry-overs from the 11th Plan, says the plan panel report.

New Delhi The government is unlikely to take up the National Food Security Bill in the winter season of Parliament as the panel examining the proposed law had to be reconstituted as its tenure had lapsed.

The National Food Security Bill, 2011, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by food minister KV Thomas in the winter session last year, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee chaired by Vilas Muttemwar for approval.

New Delhi Hit by an acute shortage of land for growing eucalyptus, the paper industry is now banking on agro-forestry to meet the rising demand of wood pulp. Started by paper major ITC, more than 1,500 acres of land is covered under the agro-forestry plan in areas such as Khammam, west Godavari, Prakasam and Nizamabad districts of Andhra Pradesh.

In these areas, eucalyptus is planted on the same land where other agricultural crops such as cotton, chili, sunflower, maize and tobacco are grown.

New Delhi in Dismal figures belie hopes of successful implementation of food security law

As the Centre braces for an expanded distribution of grain among the poor under the national food security law, here’s a sobering thought. According to the latest official data, various state governments have failed to utilise even the grain allocated under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). During the last three fiscal years, states have not been able to take the full delivery of grain — mostly rice and wheat — allocated under TPDS, which targets 6.52 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. Each BPL family is entitled to 35kg each of rice and wheat every month at subsidised rates.

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 In the shadow of the monsoon deficit, the Union agriculture ministry has drafted a contingency plan for states that have received scanty rainfall, focussing on alternative or short-duration crops.

The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) blueprint includes a shift, wherever possible, to alternative crops like bajra, groundnut, pigeon peas from water-intensive maize, cotton and paddy. State-specific plans have been prepared for parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana, sources said.

New Delhi Despite the relevant parliamentary standing committee’s unequivocal ‘No’ to government acquiring land for projects involving private money, Jairam Ramesh’s rural development ministry plans to seek the Cabinet’s nod for a proposal to allow such acquisition with caveats: The project should be in “public interest”; 80% of affected families must give their consent; and post-acquisition, land ownership must rest with the government.

The move — which aims to make more land available for projects in a country where public funds don’t match investment needs — is likely to be hailed by industry as “pragmatic”