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India-Oman FTA deal in Commerce Dept's 100-day agenda SOPs

The Commerce Department is set to focus on finalizing a standard operating procedure (SoP) for negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs), with an emphasis on new and emerging issues like gender, labor, and the environment. The 100-day agenda includes priorities such as concluding the India-Oman FTA, developing e-commerce hubs for online exports, and launching the 'Trade Connect e-Platform' to assist exporters. A recent 'chintan shivir' discussed economic assessments, services, and digital trade in FTAs, as well as negotiations on the India-Oman Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). While progress has been made in India-UK FTA talks, unresolved issues like work visas and market access for automobiles await the outcome of the UK elections. Initiatives like e-commerce hubs and the Trade Connect e-Platform aim to boost exports and provide support to new exporters by offering information on sectors, export trends, and FTA benefits. sources

Published:
Jun 14 2024, 9 pm

Freight Corridor exempt from GST, boosting Indian Railways revenue

In a recent development, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has announced an exemption from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for services provided by Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to the Indian Railways, effective from July 15, 2024. This exemption specifically applies to the Dedicated Freight Corridor, a special-purpose vehicle of the Indian Railways, eliminating the need for an 18 per cent GST on track access charges. The tax obligation on these charges, estimated at ₹5,000 crore, was seen as a potential burden on the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL). The move is expected to simplify financial transactions between the Railways and DFCCIL, avoiding the need for separate accounting categories or freight rate adjustments. The exemption aims to streamline operations and support the efficient functioning of the Indian Railways. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 8 pm

50% of India's kharif sowing completed

The latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare shows a significant increase in the overall acreage of kharif crops, with over half of the country's normal area already sown by July 12. The acreage under paddy, soyabean, maize, arhar, and urad has surged, contributing to a 10% increase in coverage compared to the previous year. Notably, the area under paddy, a key cereal crop, has seen a substantial 20.7% jump. The surge in arhar cultivation is particularly noteworthy, with the area under this crop nearly tripling from the previous year. Despite some crops like moong lagging behind, the overall sowing of pulses has increased significantly. The improved monsoon conditions this year have played a crucial role in boosting agricultural activities, with the coverage of nutri cereals also showing signs of recovery. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 8 pm

ICAR introduces 'One Scientist One Product' for research revolution

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has unveiled a new target-oriented research plan called "One Scientist One Product" to be implemented over the next five years, with close monitoring from the top to ensure maximum productivity. This initiative aims to prevent duplication of efforts and drive innovation in the agricultural sector. Additionally, ICAR is set to release 100 new seed varieties across various crops as part of the government's 100-day plan. Director-General Himanshu Pathak highlighted that all 5,521 scientists under ICAR have been assigned specific targets to develop products, whether it be seed varieties, technologies, research papers, or concepts. The organization is also aiming to increase the area under climate-resilient seeds for paddy cultivation to combat challenges posed by climate change. Despite being the world's second-largest rice producer, India has restricted rice exports to stabilize domestic prices, with a focus on promoting climate-resilient seeds in agriculture. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 7 pm

Sarees protect chilli nurseries from climate and animals

In a unique agricultural practice in the NTR district near Vatsavai, farmers are using colourful sarees to cover chilli nurseries and protect delicate seeds from the elements. This innovative method not only helps maintain moisture levels but also safeguards the seeds from potential damage caused by sudden rains or wild animal attacks, such as those by wild boars. The use of sarees has proven to be effective in ensuring the successful growth of chilli seedlings, with farmers pooling their resources to collectively raise nurseries on rented land. Despite challenges like black thrips affecting production, Telangana remains a key player in the chilli industry, ranking second in area and production, and first in productivity. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 7 pm

Buhler to double manufacturing capacity in India in 5 years

Swiss agri and food processing equipment maker Buhler India is set to invest close to ₹200 crore in expanding its manufacturing capacity over the next five years, with a focus on doubling exports to markets in Africa, West Asia, and beyond. Managing Director Prashant Gokhale revealed the company's plans to meet the growing demand in India for equipment processing agri-commodities like rice, wheat, and pulses, as well as food products such as biscuits and chocolates. Buhler India's Bengaluru facility, the fourth largest in the company, currently exports majority of its products to Africa and West Asia, with specific equipment like coffee roasters reaching global markets. The company's India business, valued at ₹700-750 crore, is growing at an average of 10% annually, driven by factors like urbanization and demand for processed foods. Additionally, Buhler India operates a global R&D unit in Bengaluru, focusing on developing innovative solutions for both Indian and global markets, while also managing IT services for the group. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 7 pm

India's goods exports increase to $35.3 billion in June

India's goods exports saw a modest increase in June, rising by 2.6 per cent to $35.3 billion, driven by sectors like engineering goods, electronics, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. However, imports surged by a higher 4.9 per cent to $56.18 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $20.98 billion. This deficit was slightly higher than the previous year but lower than the previous month. In the April-June period, exports rose by 5.84 per cent to $109.96 billion, while imports grew by 7.6 per cent to $172.23 billion, widening the trade deficit to $62.26 billion. Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal expressed optimism about crossing $800 billion in total exports for the fiscal year, focusing on key sectors and countries to boost exports. The top five export destinations in June included the US, the UAE, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Tanzania. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 7 pm

India's emissions in 2023 lower due to increased RE

India has made significant strides in reducing its carbon emissions from electricity generation, emitting 1,404 million tonnes of CO2 in 2023, behind China and the US. The country's focus on solar and wind power has helped decrease its carbon emission intensity, despite a rise in electricity demand. The share of coal generation has increased, but the addition of wind and solar power has led to a slight decline in emissions intensity. India's per capita emissions from the power sector are among the lowest in the G20, with coal still dominating the electricity mix. Solar generation has seen a substantial increase, making India the third-largest solar power generator globally. However, the country still relies heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation, with clean energy making up 22% of the mix. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 6 pm

Telangana approves ₹35,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme

The Telangana Government has unveiled a farm loan waiver scheme to assist struggling farmers, with loans up to Rs 2 lakh set to be forgiven. Families with outstanding loan amounts exceeding this limit must settle the excess to qualify for the benefit, with only one loan per family eligible for waiver. The scheme, estimated to cost between Rs 31,000-35,000 crore, will cover loans taken between December 12, 2018, and December 9, 2023. Collaboration with the National Informatics Centre and the use of PDS data will aid in beneficiary identification and fund disbursement. While the initiative aims to ease financial pressures on farmers, concerns have been raised about its inclusivity and impact on the state's finances. The government plans to complete the waiver process before August, utilizing funds from the upcoming State Budget and a dedicated corporation for timely disbursals. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 5 pm

TN startup introduces soil-less media to boost seedling growth

FARMAI India, a start-up based in Tamil Nadu, has developed a cutting-edge soil-less media to enhance crop establishment in the crucial initial 20 days, aiming to boost yields and disease resistance while reducing input costs and addressing labor shortages in agriculture. The media, sold under the "vgro" brand, facilitates the cultivation of various crops like paddy, sugarcane, vegetables, and ornamental plants. The company not only provides the media but also offers ongoing advisory services until harvest through its arm FX. By training micro-entrepreneurs in villages to handle operations, FARMAI aims to promote mechanization and improve farmers' profitability. With a focus on sustainability and efficiency, the company has successfully assisted thousands of farmers across several states, demonstrating a retention rate of 95%. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 5 pm

Rajaram Scholarship launched at DialogueNEXT conference

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) recently honored Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, a renowned wheat breeder and World Food Prize Laureate, by unveiling his bust at the DialogueNEXT conference in Mexico. This event also marked the launch of the 'Rajaram-DCM Shriram Scholarship', aimed at nurturing the next generation of agricultural scientists in line with Rajaram's legacy. The scholarship, a collaboration between CIMMYT and DCM Shriram Ltd, reflects their shared goal of enhancing wheat productivity and fostering innovation in agricultural sciences. Sanjay Chhabra, Executive Director of DCM Shriram, expressed pride in their partnership with CIMMYT and Dr. Rajaram, highlighting the impact of the Wheat Seed Development Programme in delivering superior wheat varieties to Indian farmers. Anand Shriram, Senior Vice President, emphasized the importance of the scholarship in supporting young scientists and inspiring future innovation in crop improvement. sources

Published:
Jul 15 2024, 5 pm

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