JAIPUR: To deal with the drought-like situation in Rajasthan, the state government has demanded Rs 7,424 crore from the Centre as well 27 lakh metric tones of wheat. The memorandum presented before the Central government is interim and includes the relief work for only 26 districts. The call on the other seven will be taken after the Girdawari.

In the memorandum, the state has asked the Centre to provide Rs 2,500 crore under MNREGA.

With sowing of kharif crops lagging by over 86 lakh hectares compared to last year, owing to an erratic southwest monsoon and the average water level in major reservoirs declining by 2 per cent (to 59 per cent of last year’s storage) over the previous week, the country faces a grim situation.

The area under rice, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals is less than what it was last year. Earlier, the acreage under cotton was slightly higher, but has now declined as sowing has been hit in Gujarat, thanks to a weak monsoon.

The eighteenth edition of the Agricultural Outlook provides projections to 2021 for the major agricultural commodities and biofuels as well as fish and seafood. Recent market trends and likely future developments are discussed in detail. This report foresees continuing high commodity prices and concerns over food price inflation.

Amid growing concern over a slow and weak progression of this year’s southwest monsoon, the government today assured the nation that the situation for most kharif crops, barring coarse cereals, had not turned worrisome yet. Experts, however, cast doubts over the claims, particularly on water-intensive paddy cultivation.

The situation in kharif crops is “not as serious now”, but the department has directed states to prepare contingency plans, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters.

The Planning Commission, Government of India has set a target of 20 per cent blending of diesel with bio-diesel by the year 2012 to reduce the wide gap between demand and supply of petroleum products. This requires cultivating bio-diesel

With the southwest monsoon playing truant in northeast and central India, the Centre has asked States to be ready with alternate crops that are hardy, and can withstand dry conditions.

There are reports that in some north-western states, farmers have slowed down sowing, in the hope that the monsoon will arrive or revive in the first week of July. So far, 74 per cent of the country has received deficient rain since the onset of southwest monsoon on June 5, raising serious concerns in the farming community.

Now, consumers can make ‘informed choice’ on buying packaged food products

Consumers in India can now make “informed choice” on whether they want to buy packaged food products that are genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, in an extraordinary gazette notification, has made an amendment to make labelling of every package containing genetically modified food mandatory from January 1, 2013.

Climate change, pollution of air, land and water, and change in globalisation policies are threatening the agricultural economy of the country. In such circumstances, focus should be on alleviating these problems, S. Damodaran, Minister for Agriculture, said here on Friday.

Inaugurating the 23rd meeting of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Regional Committee No. VIII at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, he said that conversion of agricultural land for commercial or residential use has also aggravated the farmers' problems.

Numerous reports have emphasized the need for major changes in the global food system: agriculture must meet the twin challenge of feeding a growing population, with rising demand for meat and high-calorie diets, while simultaneously minimizing its global environmental impacts. Organic farming—a system aimed at producing food with minimal harm to ecosystems, animals or humans—is often proposed as a solution.

New Delhi India’s grain output is estimated to exceed the previous forecast to hit a fresh peak of 252.56 million tonne this crop year through June on higher-than-expected output of rice and wheat, although coarse cereal and pulse production will trail last year’s level.

The record harvest will keep key grain supplies steady and provide the much-needed comfort to the government as it gears up to implement a food security law, but it will also bring to the fore problems of storage. Moreover, a downward revision in the production of pulses, coarse cereal and oilseeds may weigh on prices.