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Delta gears up for samba cultivation
Farmers getting ready for samba cultivation in Thanjavur district.—Photo: M.
MoorthyWith the water from the Mettur dam reaching here, farmers in the Cauvery
delta districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam are gearing up for the samba
(long-term) paddy cultivation.While transplantation will take some time under the
conventional method of cultivation, many farmers in Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam
districts have gone for direct sowing, which can help to reduce water use.Samba
paddy is expected to be raised on 1,13,000 hectares in Thanjavur district, 1,46,000
hectares in Tiruvarur and 1,08,500 hectares in Nagapattinam district, according to
official sources. Of this, direct sowing is likely to be taken up on 75,000 hectares in
Tiruvarur and 48,000 hectares in Nagapattinam.Officials say distribution of seeds is
under way in all the three districts.S. Ranganatthan, secretary of the Cauvery Delta
Farmers Welfare Association, expressed the hope that samba yield would be good this
year.Though there was rain in the past few days, the Vennar division that caters for
Tiruvarur district has not received sufficient rains. Farmers who have gone for direct
sowing in this division expect rains to help them as they are now using canal water.V.
Jeevakumar, a farmer of Budalur, says the PWD should maintain the water release at
least 3000 cusecs into the Vennar and the Cauvery. The turn system should not be
introduced till farmers get sufficient water for transplantation. Nationalised and cooperative banks should sanction crop loans liberally.The level in the Mettur dam stood
at 112.51 feet on Wednesday. Inflow was 8,758 cusecs.Discharge was 12,002 cusecs.
Discharge into the Cauvery from the Grand Anicut is 3,501 cusecs, the Vennar 3,000
cusecs, the Grand Anicut Canal 2,306 cusecs and the Kollidam 1,002 cusecs.
Plea to step up quantum of Mettur release
The present quantum of water discharge of 12,500 cusecs from the Mettur dam is
hardly sufficient to reach the tail-end delta farmers, because they encounter a peculiar
problem.Therefore, to enable them to take up cultivation, the quantum of release from
the dam should be stepped up to 20,000 cusecs, according to K.V.Kannan, vicepresident of the Cauvery Delta Farmers‘ Welfare Association.Mr Kannan, in a petition
addressed to the authorities, had stated that owing to an indiscriminate sand quarrying,
the beds of almost all rivers had gone down. As a result the sluices in the rivers were
now standing about three to five feet above the river bed, hindering the free flow of
water.At the present release level the rivers could not get sufficient water flow that
would tide over these man-made hurdles.Therefore, for effective use of water the
discharge quantum should be inevitably raised to 20,000 cusecs, he added.
Farmers in LBP ayacut area to raise nurseries for paddy cultivation
Farmers in the LBP ayacut area are preparing to raise nurseries for paddy
cultivation.The Department of Agriculture is in the process of distributing seeds
through its distribution centres to the farmers. Crowds of farmers have started turning
up at the distribution centres, official sources said.
Rain-fed areas
The rainfall in the last two days has further created ideal conditions for raising
nurseries in the farms in the ayacut area. As for the rain-fed areas in the district, the
wetness has turned out to be crucial for survival of the groundnut crop.There is
demand for Aduthurai 38, Aduthurai 39, and BPT 5204 varieties at the centres. The
durations of these crops are 130, 135 and 120 days respectively. The water release
through LBP canal that commenced on August 15 will be maintained for four
months.The patronage for the seeds sold for Rs. 26 a kg through the Agriculture
Department is more since they enjoy Rs. 10 subsidy for a kg. Additionally, biofertilizers are supplied at 50 per cent discount for Rs. 3 a kg. Two kg of bio-fertilizers
is sufficient for an acre, the sources said.Paddy seeds sold in private costs Rs. 35 a kg.
Farmers buy seeds from private entities only after the stocks with the Agriculture
Department get exhausted.Meanwhile, paddy transplantation is in progress in the
ayacut of Thadapalli-Arakankottai and is about to start in the irrigational area of
Kalingarayan canal, the official sources added.
Vazhavachanur agriculture college to be opened soon
A new agriculture college on the Vazhavachanur State Seed Farm campus, as
announced recently by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is to function from current
academic year itself.A number of students have opted for the college, which has a
sanctioned strength of 60, at the State-level single window counselling for agriculture
colleges.They will pursue B.Sc. Agriculture at the college. A special officer has been
appointed for beginning the college. Arrangements are also being made to conduct the
classes in the seed farm campus.Apart from the college, a Centre of excellence for
millets has been started at Athiyanthal near Tiruvannamalai.These two institutes are
expected to take forward researches relevant to the region.
Farmers' grievance meet
Farmers grievances day meeting will be held at the collectorate at Tiruvarur on
August 28, Thursday.District Collector M. Mathivanan will preside over the
meeting.The Collector, in a press release, appealed to farmers to take part in the meet.
Farmer reaps fruitful yield through SRI method
Collector M. Ravikumar (left) handing over a cheque to farmer John.— Photo: N.
RajeshA technologically advanced method is rooted in the success of a farmer from
Kurukattoor in Alwarthirunagari block.With the adoption of System Rice
Intensification (SRI) method, John, a progressive farmer, reaped rich benefits in
paddy.With the key intervention from officials of the Department of Agriculture, the
farmer reaped 4,000 kg of paddy per acre, against the normal yield of 2,300 kg. On his
10-acre farm land, Mr. John reaped a higher yield at a lesser cost. He said three kg of
certified seeds of paddy variety BPT 5204 was used per acre during the Pisanam
season.Explaining the reasons for his success, he told The Hindu on Tuesday that biofertilizers like azospirillum and phophobacteria were applied in the nursery.Line
planting of 15-day-old seedlings was followed with spacing of 22.5 cm between rows
and 22.5 cm between plants. Water management practice was adopted and cono
weeder used at regular intervals to incorporate the weeds into the soil.By this way, the
weeder helped not only to reduce labour cost but also to generate new tertiary roots,
besides releasing of organic nutrients from decomposed weeds, he said.
Sambar calf rescued
An injured sambar calf was rescued at Thalaikundah, near here, on Wednesday.Early
in the afternoon residents of Thalaikundah saw the calf being chased by a dog along
the Thalaikundah-Pudhumund road. Some of the youth chased the dog away.Later, a
team of forest officials from The Nilgiris North Forest Division led by forester M.
Paramasivam rescued the calf with the help of villagers. The calf had suffered some
bruises.It was taken to a veterinary facility at the Sheep Breeding Research Station in
Sandynullah, near here. After treatment it was taken back to Thalaikundah and
released into the nearby Kalhatty reserve forests.
Farmers continue to wait for Tungabhadra water
Water-level in the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal was just one feet after the 104th mile
point around 11 km away from Raichur on Wednesday.— PHOTO: SANTOSH
SAGARWhile the disheartening scenes of young standing crops drying up, sown
seeds failing to germinate and huge tracts of black-soil fields remaining unsownare
startling in Raichur district, the state of around 3.5 lakh acres of irrigated land at the
tail-end of Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal (TLBC), is no less disturbing. These areas
continue to feel excessive thirst despite the fact that Tungabhadra Reservoir near
Hospet is full. The farmers at the tail-end of the TLBC have desperately been waiting
for water for the last twenty days, making their paddy fields ready for
transplantation.As per the decision of the Tungabhadra Irrigation Consultative
Committee that met on August 2, sufficient water had been released to TLBC.
However, the water has not yet reached the two tail-end canal points. When The
Hindu visited the 104 th mile point on Wednesday morning, the level of flowing water
in the main canal was just 1 feet, far below of 6.10 feet to be consistently maintained
throughout the period.Water-levelAccording to sources, the water-level at 47th mile
point, the canal‘s entry point into Raichur district, was 11.35 feet, a little lower than
its targeted level of 12.5 feet. However, despite this, the water-level at the 90th and
104th mile points stood at 5.5 feet and 1 feet respectively on Wednesday.―Around 1.5
lakh acres in the upper reaches are illegally irrigated using the canal water by
powerful landlords and influential politicians, hand in hand with officials of the
Irrigation Department,‖ said farmers‘ leader Chamarasa Malipatil.―That delay in
getting water would delay transplantation,‖ he added. According to him, an acre of
normally cultivated field yields 40-45 bags of paddy of 75 kg each. Every delayed
week would decrease the output by 5 bags, apart from impacting its quality by
producing broken rice, which drastically brings down price in the market, he said.
Areca growers prefer oil palm
Along with arecanut and rubber, oil palm cultivation too is gaining ground in
Dakshina Kannada and Udupi as some of the palms planted on 188 hectares (464
acres) in the past two-and-a-half years have flowered now.With this, some arecanut
growers have shifted to oil palm instead of expanding the area under arecanut as
traditionally done, or going for rubber. Oil palm has attracted more farmers in Sullia
taluk in Dakshina Kannada, where many traditional arecanut plantations have been
ravaged by yellow leaf disease and the root grub menace.The government through an
order on January 4, 2012, appointed Godrej Agrovet Ltd. for promoting oil palm
cultivation in the two districts under a Centrally-sponsored scheme. The planting had
begun in the same year.According to Pallavi Shigwan, area manager of the company ,
214 farmers in Dakshina Kannada had taken up its cultivation on 134 hectares (331
acres) and 77 farmers had gone for it in 54 hectares (133 acres) in Udupi.In Sullia
taluk alone, 58 hectares (143 acres) had come under oil palm with 84 farmers opting
for it.She said the palms flowered 18 months after the planting. But the first harvest
started in the fourth year of planting. It was because after the first flowering, its
flowers would have to be removed for a year under the ―juvenile phase‖ for the palms
to gain strength.―We are in the flower removal stage now,‖ Ms. Shigwan said.Vasanth
Bhat Todikana, near Sullia, who planted 1,100 palms on seven hectares, said more
than 100 palms on his plantation had flowered. ―It best suits to Dakshina Kannada,‖
Mr. Bhat whose arecanut plantation was affected by the yellow leaf disease,
said.Vasanth Sheth of Shankaranarayana, Kundapur taluk, said he planted 376 palms
on seven acres after studying about oil palm. Unlike arecanut, it demands less labour
and one need not wait till seven years for harvesting.Deena M.K., Assistant Director
(Horticulture) and Nodal Officer for oil palm cultivation in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi,
Kodagu and Hassan said the government gave subsidy till fourth year of planting. In
addition, financial assistance for irrigation, inter-crop cultivation too were available.
Fungal rot disease hits ginger crop
As the crop turned profitable last year, the area of cultivation of ginger was increased
to 15,000 acres this year.— Photo: VAIDYA
Ginger crop has been infected with fungal rot disease owing to heavy rain that lashed
the district recently.The symptoms of the disease are rotting of tubers and yellowing
of leaves. The affected plants will die in a few days.Last year, ginger was cultivated
on 12,500 acres of land in the district. The cultivation had proved profitable as the
price of the produce was Rs. 18,000 a quintal. Owing to the remunerative price, the
area of cultivation of ginger increased to 15,000 acres this year.Deputy Director of
Department of Horticulture M. Vishwanath told The Hindu that around 15 per cent of
the crop in the district has been infected with the disease.Excess moisture content in
the weather was responsible for it. The infection was severe in ginger plots in lowlying areas of Hosanagar, Sagar and Shikaripur taluks. Agricultural fields in some
villages here had remained inundated for more than 10 days because of heavy rain.
Farmers have been asked to construct drainages in their fields to avoid water-logging,
he said.Suresh, a marginal farmer from Kallukoppa village, has been cultivating paddy
on two acres of land from many years. He switched over to ginger this year expecting
high returns. But the crop has been infected with fungal rot disease.He said the yield
will decline owing to infection and the tubers affected with rot will be purchased at a
throw away price.Mr. Suresh said that he incurred Rs. 30,000 expense to cultivate
ginger. ―I was planning to dig a borewell with the money I get from selling the ginger.
I have to postpone the plan as the returns will not be on the expected lines,‖ he
said.Mr. Vishwanath said that farmers should treat the infected plants with metalaxyl
solution. The Department of Horticulture has organised a series of awareness
programmes to help farmers, he added.
At a mental healthcare centre, farming is a fruitful exercise

The vegetable farm (above) and the rich reap managed by the inmates of the
Prathyasha Bhavan, Ramavaramapuram, near Thrissur.

Agriculture has been successfully utilised for improving mental health of inmates of
Prathyasha Bhavan, a home for mentally challenged women at Ramavarmapuram,
near here.It was altogether a different experience for the 25 inmates, who were stuck
in the rooms of the home. The inmates were categorised and given the task of various
agriculture work according to their condition.When one group was engaged in
removing weeds and watering the plants, another group has been given the work of
adding fertilisers and leveling the ground. As a project for improving the physical and
mental health of the inmates, the department too, encouraged the task.In no time, the
one-and-a-half-acre land of the Prathyasha Bhavan, which was laying fallow for years,
turned into a rich vegetable garden.We are getting all kinds of vegetables, including
brinjal, ash gourd, snake gourd, cow beans, chilly and plantain from our garden, said
K.A. Rabiya, the Superintendent of the home.The change was striking. All of them
showed tremendous interest in the work. They volunteered to work one hour each in
the garden during mornings and afternoons.―It improved their confidence, aspiration
to recover and curiosity. The gardening gave they a new hope of life. They actively
involved themselves in the farming activities,‖ she said. They were initiated to a
systematic life with a sense of purpose, Ms. Rabiya added.She also said the new group
activity has considerably reduced the tendency of quarreling, insomnia and depression
among imamates.The project was submitted for the recognition of the Social Justice
Department in the name of ‗Swasraya Vila‘. In all, 20 kinds of vegetables are being
cultivated in the bhavan. ―We also have a plantain farm with 12 kinds of plantains,‖
Ms. Rabiya said.The home is functioning under the Social Justice Department.
A case made for tamarillo farming
Tamarillo or tree tomato (marathakkali) may not be a known fruit in the State but its
sweet taste, a combination of passion fruit and tomato, will make you fall for it.The
egg-shaped pink fruit, believed to have arrived here during the British era, was once a
darling of the local market, thriving in the subtropical climate here. Mainly planted in
Ooty and Kodaikanal now, tamarillo cultivation at Kanthallur had fallen from grace
over the years due to lack of marketing with the fruit fetching between Rs.50 and
Rs.60 a kg.An intercrop―Tamarillo does not require much care and there is no need for
application of pesticide or fertilizer,‖ says Sivan, a farmer who cultivates tamarillo as
an intercrop.Some visitors purchase it in bulk, he said adding that if there was a
regular market, tamarillo would have been grown on a large scale.The low-calorie
fibre-rich fruit is a good source of iron and Vitamin A and C. An official with the
VFPCK, who tried to promote the fruit, said farmers were reluctant to grow it as land
holdings were small and it took about three to four years for the first yield. ―It is only
an intercrop now and the farmers get around 30 to 35 kg from a plant. There is good
demand for the fruit in Tamil Nadu, though the VFPCK does not directly procure it
from the farmers,‖ he said.―Like the farm fresh apples and oranges of Kanthallur,
tamarillo too will become a favourite of the visitors here,‖ he said.He said tamarillo
was a crop for the future and the eucalyptus grandis plantations here could be
converted to cultivate tamarillo through a government plan. The fruit had good export
potential, he said adding that it could be cultivated in fallow land under a government
scheme.―In Norway, where it is a major fruit crop, a single tree provides 50 kg of fruit
annually. Tamarillo has good demand in the juice industry and value-added products
there. It can be made highly productive as the tropical climate here is best suited for
the plant,‖ he said. ―Once you drink its juice, its taste lingers for long,‖ says
Harikrishnan, who is associated with Horticorp here.
Cluster outlet for sale of vegetables
To make vegetable farming more lucrative, an ‗A‘ grade cluster outlet to market
indigenously grown vegetables will be opened near Government Agricultural College,
Padanakkad, on Thursday.The outlet will be inaugurated by Agriculture Minister K.P.
Mohanan at 9.30 a.m.It is part of the comprehensive vegetable farming project being
implemented by the Agriculture Department. The scheme envisages setting up
farmers‘ platforms at the block panchayat-level to produce and procure vegetables and
ensure fair price for the growers.The outlet will benefit the farmers in the Kanhangad
block panchayat limits.The department has earmarked Rs.6.30 lakh to set up cluster
outlets in each of the six block panchayats in the district.
More power to the farmer
Vegetables displayed at the inauguration of the Haritha Block Level Federated
Council at Kattappana in Idukki on Wednesday.—Photo: By special arrangementThe
Kattappana block level vegetable auction centre cum bio-fertiliser unit under the
Agriculture Department was inaugurated at the old bus stand here on Wednesday.
Named Haritha Block Level Federated Council, the joint venture by vegetable farmers
here will help farmers get better prices for their produce.The vegetables in 10 cluster
units at the grama panchayats in the block will be directly collected and auctioned on
Wednesdays and Sundays here. The scheme is to ensure quality produce to the
businessmen while giving the benefits directly to the farmers.This is a first endeavour
of this kind in Idukki district and many attempts in this regard had failed earlier. The
main advantage for farmers is that they are paid for the produce on the same day of
auctioning. The businessmen get bulk quantity without middlemen and high prices are
ensured to the farmers depending on the demand supply factor. P.G. Ushakumari,
Deputy Director, Agriculture said that a fund of Rs 10 lakh has been allotted to the
council and the transportation cost will be taken up sharing one parentage among the
farmers.She said that in the second phase, traders from outside the district will be
brought to the auctioning centre so as to eliminate middlemen and traders at the local
level forming a cartel to keep the prices at a low. A marketing facility for farming
implements and bio-fertilisers will form part of the auction centre. The aim is to
maximise farm production and organic cultivation, she said.Earlier, Joyce George
M.P. inaugurated the auction centre and block panchayat president Thomas Rajan
presided over the event.
KAU workshop on pineapple farming
The Kerala Agricultural University‘s (KAU) Mannuthy training centre in Thrissur is
organising a one-day national workshop on pineapple farming on the campus on
August 25. The workshop is being organised by the Kerala Pineapple Mission of the
Department of Agriculture and the university, a press release issued here said. For
details and registration, contact: 94464 66702, a press release said.
Dredging ensures timely flow of water in Kallanai Kalvai system

Water being realised at Anavayal main channel in Kallanai Kalvai in Pudukottai
district on Tuesday. Dredging of channels has facilitated speedy realisation of
water in the tail-end area of the district.

PWD to ensure equitable distribution of water to all villages
Removal of silt and dredging on the Kallanai Kalvai and supply channels have helped
speedy flow of Cauvery water for irrigation in the tail-end areas of the delta in the
district.Dredging of the main channels to remove silt and dredging was taken up on 39
km of main channel between Merpanaikadu to Mumbalai. As many as 26 works were
executed at a cost of Rs. 1.09 crore.There are 150 system tanks located in this main
channel route and the supply channels to these tanks to a cumulative length of 48 km
were cleared of the silt and other weeds.Water entering Merpanaikadu reached
Mumbalai within three days, against the usual one week‘s time. Sharp to moderate
showers in the coastal area in the past few days came in handy for speedy realisation
of waters at Mumbalai, according to PWD sources.Public Works and Water Resource
Conservation Division executed the works within couples of month.Water hyacinth,
‗Neyveli kaatamanakku‘ and other thick vegetation were fully cleared as part of
dredging the silt, according to C. Manoharan, District Collector, who inspected the
realisation of waters and its utilisation in the Cauvery Mettur Project (CMP) area in
the district on Tuesday. He said that 28,000 acres would be irrigated through the
Kallanai Kalvai channel in the tail-end blocks in the district.The Agriculture
Department has made arrangements for the supply of inputs to the samba farmers. The
Public Works Department would ensure equitable distribution of irrigation to all the
villages.The water could be well utilised for raising ‗samba‘. About 335 tonnes of
seeds had been stocked in government and private outlets.The Collector has advised
farmers to approach the agricultural extension officers in Aranthangi, Athani,
Subramaniapuram, Manamelkudi, and Avudaiyarkovil immediately for their input
requirements.PWD sources said the storage was being stabilised in Mumbalai so that
the tail-end area benefited without any discrimination.
Financial aid to food processing units
Applications have been invited for financial assistance to food processing units in the
State. The aid is available for units under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the
National Mission for Food Processing. The units considered for assistance include
dairies, fish and shrimp processing units and bakeries. Applications should reach the
Chief Executive Officer, AP Food Processing Society, Hyderabad, before September
1. Visit www:apfps.com or call 040-23392202 for details.
Over three lakh farmers to benefit from loan waiver scheme
District Collector G. Kishan said that 3,10,000 farmers in the district would benefit
from the loan waiver scheme launched by the State government.The loans of farmers
pending up to August 31, 2014, would be eligible for waiver of up to Rs. 1 lakh
including interest on crop loans. Nearly 2,85,265 farmers have taken crop loans to the
tune of Rs. 1,396 crore while 36,735 farmers have taken gold loans to the tune of Rs.
269 crore.The loan waiver scheme would be applicable to the farmers who own land
and those who have land on lease. Mr. Kishan said a special drive would be taken up
at village and mandal level in the last week of August to assess the beneficiaries and a
social audit would be undertaken before submitting the same to the State
government.He appealed to the farmers not to wait for loan waiver and repay their
outstanding loans to avoid penal interest. ―I appeal to the farmers to pay their loans
and the government would pay them up to Rs. 1 lakh. If they pay now avoiding penal
interest, their creditworthiness will improve and they will be able to get fresh loans
without any hassle,‖ the Collector said. The entire exercise would be completed by
August 31.In a related issue, Mr. Kishan said that the district received Rs. 53.45 crore
as compensation towards crop damage. Crop damage due to natural calamities from
September 2010 to May 2014 would be covered. The compensation would benefit
1,55,857 farmers. It would be disbursed through banks accounts of the farmers. Those
who have not submitted their bank accounts should do so at the earliest, he said.Staff
Reporter adds: More than three lakh farmers in Medak district are expected to benefit
from the loan waiver scheme launched by the State government. District In-charge
Collector A. Sarath informed this to higher authorities through a video conference
held here on Wednesday. Loans of farmers up to Rs. 1 lakh would be waived under
the scheme.According to sources, 2,76,678 farmers in the district have taken loans to
the tune of Rs. 1,763 crore while 29,347 farmers have taken gold loans to the tune of
Rs. 185 crore. The In-charge Collector held a meeting with bank officials, agriculture
and cooperative departments and discussed various issues with regard to loan waiver
scheme. The list of beneficiaries would be prepared from August 21 to 23 and the
same would be examined at the mandal-level bankers‘ meeting to be held on August
24 and 25.
“You are what you eat” — are you?
The HinduChildren raised on sorghum have different gut microbes. Photo: T. Vijaya
Kumar.About 70 years ago when the biologist J.B.S. Haldane was asked which would
be God‘s favourite life form, he said ―beetles,‖ since there are far more beetles in the
world than people. Were he alive today, Haldane would likely change his mind and
answer that it would be microbes. Just the number of microbes — bacteria, virus,
archae, and other single-cell organisms in human guts (intestine) alone is 100 trillion,
tenfold more than the total number of cells in the entire human body. And as a
scientist wag remarked, ―I was born with my genome, but when I depart, it will be
with 100 other genomes.‖Where do we pick up all theses bugs? The baby in the womb
is bug-free but exiting through the birth canal, the baby picks up a complex set of
microbial populations. Babies born through caesarean section have different microbial
composition then those through vaginal delivery. These two are of maternal
inheritance, and they largely collect in the intestines of the baby — hence the term gut
microbiome.What do these bugs do? Help, harm or happily coexist — all of these. I
remember when our first child Katyayani was born, she fell very sick within a day,
dehydrating through loose motions and weakening by hours. The brilliant
paediatrician, Dr. Chikarmane, checked the mother Shakti and found that she carried
remnants of the pathogen E. histolytica from an earlier infection, which was passed on
to Katya. He then cleared Katya of infection using antibiotics, and fed her another set
of microbes,Lactobacillus (which help in digesting milk, but which too were lost in
the treatment) and restored her health, the ability to digest milk and gain strength.
Over time, the newborn acquires microbes in the gut (and elsewhere) through
environmental and other sources as well. The composition evolves continuously, but
the numbers are maintained. In effect then the human gut is an ecosystem, with
microbial genes outnumbering human genes by 100 to 1.Given this ecosystem, there is
a steady give and take between the host and the guests in the stomach. As we eat, so
our microbiome and they produce metabolites and waste molecules that affect our
metabolism as well. You are not what you eat, you are what your gut bugs eat and
generate as products!
Immigrants manipulate the host?
This interaction between the host and the guest goes to such an extent that the guest
can ―manipulate‖ the diet of the host. A recent paper with the provocative title: ―Is
eating behaviour manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary
pressure and potential mechanism‖ has been published in the journal Bio essays (36:
DOI 10.1002/ bies. 2014.0071) by a multi-centre group led by Dr Carlo Maley of
UCSF, Califonia. They show how our bodies are composed of a diversity of
organisms competing for nutritional resources.Some of them (e.g., prevotella) grow
best on carbohydrates and when they do so, they release some chemicals that induce
the human host to crave for starchy food. Others such as bacteroidetes grow well with
certain fats and in turn induce the host to go for fatty food. How do they do it? The
signal molecules they release act not just on the digestive system of the body but also
on the pain perception system and the nervous system. They alter the receptors that
respond to taste, mood, pain and pleasure. In essence, you are not necessarily the
master but are influenced by what your gut microbiome tells you through the signals
they release, affecting your behaviour! This guest-influenced host reaction has been
suggested to be associated with conditions like obesity, diabetes, allergy (to certain
microbial metabolic toxins) and even mood swings and autism.In an extreme case
with rats, studied by House, Vyas and Sapolsky (PLoS ONE 2011, 6: e23277, free on
the web), the researchers found that the microbe Toxoplasma gondii infecting rat guts
suppressed the rat‘s normal fear of cat smells, thereby making the rat a prey for the
cat. The microbes, now housed in the cat‘s belly, found it more hospitable!
Occasionally we see the reverse, the host reorganizing the composition of the gut
micro biome through diet. Japanese people love to eat seaweed, and now one sees
specialist microbes that digest seaweeds in Japanese tummies. Likewise, unique
microbes that can digest cellulose are found in the guts of African children raised on
sorghum in their food.We thus see how microbes within us tend to dictate terms and
affect not only our digestive system and health, but also our moods, feelings and
preferences.―You are what you eat‖ is a phrase that became a buzz word in a variety
of contexts, after Gillian Mckeith ran a BBC TV series with that name, in which she
advised people on how to eat appropriate healthy diets. It now appears we need to
modify it to ―You are what your gut‘s bugs tell you to eat.‖
D. BALASUBRAMANIAN
Management of yellow mosaic virus in greengram
Important diseases of greengram are root rot, wilt, leaf spot, powdery mildew,
bacterial leaf spot, leaf curl, leaf crinkle and yellow mosaic virus.Among these, yellow
mosaic virus (YMV) is a major observed disease in pulses during recent years.It is the
most destructive disease during all seasons. It results in heavy crop loss from 50 to 70
per cent, especially if the disease occurs in the early stages of crop growth. It affects
crops like blackgram, soyabean and other pulse crops too.
Symptoms
Initially small yellow patches or spots appear on the young leaves. Slowly the area of
yellow discoloration increases and the entire leaf may turn yellow.Infected leaves
show alternating green and yellow patches. Yellow leaves turn slowly dry and wither.
Infected plants mature late. Flower and pod production get reduced.Pods in the
infected plants are small size, turn yellow and get distorted. Early infection causes
death of the plant before seed set.Infection causes reduction in plant yield and quality
of grains. Diseased plants have stunted growth. This disease is transmitted by
whitefly.Seeds are to be treated with insecticides like carbosulfon at 30gm or
monocrotophos at 5ml per one kg seed before sowing.Follow crop rotation and
maintain soil health management. Grow suitable region wise resistant varieties. Use
seeds collected from disease-free plants.
Control measures:
— Infected plants should be removed.
— Remove and destroy disease-affected leaves/plants from crop fields to avoid
secondary spread.
— Destroy host weeds. Intercrop with non host crops like sorghum, pearl millet and
maize.
— Control of white fly by spraying insecticides viz., dimethoate 0.03 per cent or
monocrotophos 1.6 per cent or metasystox (0.1 per cent) or triazophos 1.25 ml/l at the
initial stage of disease proves effective.
— If the disease is not controlled, apply second spray at an interval of 7-10 days.
— Foliar sprays of methyl demeton 2ml/l also control the vector spread.
(Dr. Arshanapally Vijaya Bhaskar Rao, Scientist ( Plant Pathology),
email:av_bhaskar12@yahoo.co.in, mobile: 098498 17896, Regional Agricultural
Research Station ,Warangal, Acharya N.G.Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad,
Telangana.)
“Future lies in sea farming”
Since annual marine fish production had reached the sustainable level of four million
tonnes, future demand could be met only if sea farming was taken up on a large scale,
cautioned Scientist in charge G. Gopakumar of Central Marine Fisheries Research
Institute (CMFRI) here on Wednesday.In his address at the inauguration of a summer
school at the CMFRI, he said the time had come for making mari-culture as a major
contributor for marine fish production. He said the marine fish production by
capturing was 3.78 million tonnes in 2013 against 3.9 million tonnes the previous
year. ―Countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have gone far ahead in sea
farming while India is yet to make a mark,‖ he said adding India should aim for one
million tonnes of marine fish production through sea farming in the next 10 years to
meet the demand. The 8 to 10 kg per capita consumption of marine fish would grow to
15 to 16 kg in 2015, he said.Mr. Gopakumar said the CMFRI had developed the
technology and infrastructure for producing lakhs of seeds of cobia and silver
pompano and the technology-sharing needed wider applications, especially for
commercialisation of seed production.Former CMFRI Director P.S.B.R. James
suggested that the Mandapam centre must be upgraded to international standards to
popularise sea farming technology after tying up with world organisations.Efforts
should also be made to increase fresh water fish production as India had a large
number of water bodies. This sector would grow leaps and bounds if all the water
bodies were used for fresh water fish production, he said.Stating that the regularisation
of marine fish production by capturing was far from satisfactory, Mr. James regretted
that ―we are indiscriminately destroying juvenile fish which is a national waste.‖
farmer’s notebook
Skilled force:It is a labour intensive job.- Photo: Special Arrangement
In two years the net profit from the sale of animals was Rs. 5.3 lakh
Chennai
Chennai - INDIA
Today's Weather
Tomorrow's Forecast
Thursday, Aug 21
Max
Sunny
32o
Friday, Aug 22
Min
Max
Cloudy
| 27o
Rain: 0
Sunrise: 05:57
Humidity: 70
Sunset: 06:27
Wind: normal
Barometer: 1006
34o
Min
| 26o
Extended Forecast for a week
Saturday
Aug 23
Sunday
Aug 24
Monday
Aug 25
Tuesday
Aug 26
Wednesday
Aug 27
34o | 25o
33o | 26o
32o | 26o
31o | 26o
33o | 26o
Cloudy
Cloudy
Cloudy
Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
Rain: 0
Airport Weather
Sunrise: 05:57
Humidity: 70 Sunset: 06:27
Chennai
Chennai
Wind: normal Barometer: 1006
The Fruit of Hardwork

It is seven in the evening, a busy time for fruit sellers. The scent of yellow-green
guavas follows the reporter, as she steps into a sea of fruit charged by the citric air
around. Clad in a white jibba, wearing a Gandhi cap, Mohammed Ameen (19), is one
among the array of fruit vendors at the Porur market. Adjusting his jibba, Ameen asks
us, ―Maathulam pazham, venumamaa?‖ ―Illa, but may I click pictures?‖ asks the
reporter.―Come back later. Right now, I am busy with my customers,‖ he says. After a
second thought, Ameen smiles and offers a Maathulam pazham. ―I am a fourthgeneration fruit vendor. I am pursuing a BBA degree in distance education from Guru
Nanak College, Velachery. Since vaapa is unwell, I am taking care of the shop,‖ he
says. Aiming higher, Ameen is keen to manage two vocations ―I don‘t want to leave
this, but when I get a job, I‘ll try to manage this business,‖ adds this marketingaspirant. Spreading his shop amid so many fruit vendors hasn‘t made him insecure.
―Business appears brisk on weekends, even if it‘s harsh summer or rainy days. I got to
sell four kg of apples, thanks to Krishna Jayanthi,‖ he says.Ameen is all smiles about
the festive season. ―Krishna Jayanthi has got over. And Vinayaka Chathurthi,
Navarathri, Deepavali, Karthigai Deepam and Sankaranthi are fast-approaching,‖ he
adds.And, when does he get time to study? ―I study in the noon, when I don‘t get
customers,‖ he adds.And does he have any inkling about the Madras Week
celebrations. Ameen asks, ―Madrasa kondada oru naal podhuma?‖ (Is a day enough to
celebrate Madras?)
Former Himachal CM to head panel on revamping FCI
The Government on Wednesday set up a high-level committee to recommend
restructuring of Food Corporation of India (FCI). The committee will submit its report
to the Government within three months, an official release said.The committee, to be
headed by former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar, 80, will study
various models of restructuring or unbundling of the FCI ―to improve its operational
efficiency and financial management‖ as well as measures for overall improvement in
management of foodgrains, among other issues.The other members of the committee
are Chief Secretary, Punjab Government or his representative, Chief Secretary,
Chhattisgarh Government or his representative, G Raghuram, Dean, IIM-Ahmedabad,
Ashok Gulati, Former Chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices,
Gunmadi Nancharaiah, Dean, School of Economics, University of Hyderabad ,
Chairman & MD, FCI, who will be Member & Convener and Ram Sewak Sharma,
Secretary (Electronics & IT), who will be a special invitee to give inputs on use of
technology, a Food Processing Ministry release said.―It is commonly perceived that
FCI is plagued with several functional and cost-inefficiencies, which need to be
removed for efficient management of foodgrains,‖ the Ministry said.Cash-strapped
FCI had reportedly recently written to the Ministry urging the Government to clear
dues worth Rs. 50,000 crore. The Government-owned agency has raised a short-term
loan of Rs. 20,000 crore twice for smooth procurement and distribution of foodgrains,
and its long-term borrowings stand at about Rs. 72,000 crore.
Functions
The other terms of reference of the committee include examining the present day
administrative, functional and financial structure of the FCI, define or give
suggestions to re-orient the role of FCI in MSP (minimum support price) operations,
storage and distribution of foodgrains and food security systems of the country,
suggest a way forward for strengthening and integration of supply chain of foodgrains,
suggest cost-effective models from the point of view of storage and the least cost
option of moving grains.FCI, set up under the Food Corporation Act 1964, is
responsible for procurement, management of Central pool stocks and distribution of
foodgrains to State agencies for various food security programmes as well as offering
price support operations.
Higher domestic prices drag farm produce exports
After scaling a new high last fiscal, exports of agricultural products could face the
threat of slowdown as several produce such as corn, wheat, soyameal and sugar are
being out-priced in world markets. Overseas shipments of these commodities have
slowed down in recent months with buyers seen shifting to other origins, even as
global prices remain bearish on ample supplies.Trade sources said that shipments of
many a commodity is unviable in the current scenario as domestic prices are ruling
higher than global price. Also the fact that rupee has been ruling steady against the
dollar in the recent past is not giving any competitive edge to exporters. Agri exports
touched a record Rs. 2.68 lakh crore in 2013-14.
Cereal exports
―Except for rice, there‘s no viability for exports of other cereals,‖ said Tejinder
Narang, grains trade analyst. While India may continue to maintain its dominance in
rice exports with shipments likely to be around 10.5 million tonnes, there is a sharp
decline in wheat exports despite huge stocks in the country, Narang said.Against
exports of 5.5 million tonnes in 2013-14, about 1.7 million tonnes of wheat have been
shipped out in the current fiscal. Bulk of the wheat exports have been carried out by
the private trade, while shipments from the Government stocks have stopped. The
Government is yet to take a call on allowing wheat shipments. Wheat stocks in
Central pool stood at 38.1 million tonnes (mt) as on August 1, almost twice the
strategic and buffer norm of 20.1 mt.The USDA has forecast Indian rice shipments in
2014-15 to be around 8.5 mt, lower than last year‘s 10.5 mt. Also, the forecast for
wheat and corn is lower at 3 mt and 2.5 mt respectively.
Exporters positive
However, the Indian rice exporters are bullish on prospects despite short term
challenges.―The support provided by Thailand Government to boost its rice
shipments, is proving to be a challenge for the Indian exporters. However, we expect a
good growth in shipments this year – a repeat of 2012, when shipments peaked to over
10 mt,‖ said BV Krishna Rao, Managing Director of Pattabhi Agro Foods Ltd, a rice
exporter from Andhra Pradesh.―Our parboiled rice with 5 per cent brokens is still
competitive, while the white rice is not competitive,‖ Rao said.Similarly, basmati
exports are set to pick up in coming months. ―Buyers traditionally slowdown their
purchases on expectations of new crop, but we expect a demand pick up from next
month,‖ said Vijay Setia, executive director at Chamanlal Setia Exports Ltd. Setia, a
former head of the rice exporters body projects that basmati exports would grow at
around 20 per cent over next 2-3 years.
Soya and dairy
In case of soyameal, exports have taken a hit not only due to price disparity, but also
due to lower availability for shipments. ―There is hardly any shipment happening now,
but deals for the new crop are taking place at around $470-480 a tonne,‖ said Rajesh
Agarwal, spokesperson for Soyabean Processors Association of India. Even shipments
of skimmed milk powder (SMP) are not viable these days as the global prices have
dropped on improved supplies. ―The global prices are hovering at aroundRs. 200 a kg,
while the domestic prices are around Rs. 230 a kg,‖ said Sandeep Aggarwal, Director,
SMC Foods, a Delhi-based exporter.
NCDEX to seek court nod to clean tainted pepper
The National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange will seek the Kerala High
Court‘s permission to clean over 2,500 tonne pepper stocks, seized by the Food Safety
and Standards Authority of India, a senior official of the exchange said today. The
high court will be hearing a case related to this matter on Friday.According to the
official, the NCDEX has received the Spices Board India‘s certificate stating that
samples cleaned by the exchange on trial basis were free of the hazardous mineral oil
content. In June, NCDEX Managing Director Samir Shah had told Cogencis that the
exchange had proposed cleaning over 2,500 tonne pepper stocks, accounting for
nearly five per cent of India‘s annual output, transacted via NCDEX futures.
In December 2012, around 6,800 tonnes of pepper at six NCDEX-accredited
warehouses in Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts of Kerala were seized after traces of
mineral oil were found on the spice. The mineral oil coating on pepper is considered
carcinogenic.
Floods take a toll on paddy cultivation
Heavy rains in major growing areas are taking a toll on thepaddy crop. In parts of
Odisha, Assam and Uttar Pradesh, thecrop has already seen substantial damage.
Officials in the agriculture departments of these states are compiling data on the actual
extent of the flooding. It is estimated up to 40 per cent of the crop in low-lying, floodprone areas might be damaged in these states.
Coastal areas in Odisha (Cuttack, Balasore, Kendrapara and Jajpur) and eastern Uttar
Pradesh have been significantly affected. A senior official in the Odisha agriculture
department said a meeting with the chief minister had been convened to discuss the
issue.In Assam, 10 districts had been affected, officials said. Major losses were
recorded in Lakhanpur, Dibrugarh, Johat and Dhemaji. About 60 per cent of the
sowing has been completed in Assam. In Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, sowing is in the
last stages. Trilochan Mahapatra, director, Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, said if
water levels didn‘t recede soon, the crop might be damaged. This year, sowing had
been delayed due to the delayed monsoon, he said, adding as a result, many farmers
whose nurseries were affected by the floods would be at a disadvantage, as there
wasn‘t scope to start the process afresh.A fall in the paddy crop will not only affect
the direct incomes of farmers, but also lead to a shortage of fodder and , consequently,
hit the dairy sector.It is estimated the kharif season accounts for 90 per cent of the
paddy crop.
Good returns prompt Gujarat farmers to shift to sesame
While sowing of oilseeds has seen a decline this kharif season, the area
under sesame has increased, with farmers getting good prices for the crop. Sources
said this year, sesame sowing was likely to exceed last year‘s mark.
According to the Union agriculture ministry, as of August 14, the area under sesame
stood at 1.39 million hectares, against 1.27 million hectares a year earlier. In the kharif
season last year, the area was 1.49 million hectares.―We have seen excellent sowing
for the sesame crop in the ongoing kharif season, as farmers have received good
returns through the year. Also, the crop needs less water and this year, the monsoon
didn‘t begin on a good note. These factors encouraged farmers to move to sesame,‖
said Kishor Tanna, chairman of the Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion
Council.As of August 14, the highest sowing was registered in Rajasthan, with
432,000 hectares, followed by Madhya Pradesh (335,000 hectares) and Uttar Pradesh
(314,000 hectares), according to data released by the Union agriculture ministry.
As of August 11, sowing stood at 127,100 hectares in Gujarat, 107 per cent of the total
sowing area in the state (119,100 hectares). A year earlier, the sowing area was
111,600 hectares. S R Chaudhary, director of agriculture in the Gujarat government,
said because of the delay in rains, many farmers in the state had shifted to sesame.
―Many farmers who sowed pulses last year seem to have shifted to sesame,‖ he said,
adding the shift was primarily from bajra, jowar and castor. Due to low production
and high export demand, sesame prices rose to about Rs 3,000/20 kg in June; now,
prices stand at Rs 2,300-2,400/ 20 kg.
Gujarat-based exporter Suresh Chandarana of Dhaval Agri Export said, ―As
international demand was good, sesame prices were higher this year. The average
price of the sesame seed is higher this season compared to last year…The total area
might cross last year‘s mark. However, the final picture will only be
Millets become Trichy homemakers’ favourite, health benefits raise hope
Health benefits of millets seem to be slowly catching up with people in Trichy. Proof
of it was the response which the traditional food fest, which recently concluded in
city, received. The fest which attracted over 10,000 visitors, saw people thronging to
know more about the cereal variety. Probably, it's the increased incidence of Type 2
diabetes among youth, and other health issues that has made people rethink about their
food habits. Despite taking medicine for such diseases, the intake of junk foods is an
obstacle. So, doctors these days advise people to look at the way their ancestors lived.
Traditional food, including millets, used to be main part of their diet. Kambu (pearl
millet), Kezhvaragu (finger millet), Thinai (foxtail millet), Saamai (little millet),
Makka Cholam (Corn Makka), Kuthiraivali (Barnyard millet), Panivaragu (Proso
millet), Varagu (Kodo millet) are the various types of millets which are being
promoted along with Kaikuthal arisi (hand-pound rice or brown rice) among the
people. Doctors claim that millets, which are rich in vitamins, help improve the
immune system. "We always advise our patients to have healthy food. People can take
any millet variety which suits them," said Dr SP Thiruppathy, former secretary of
Indian Medical Association (IMA). Chandra, a homemaker, who had put up a stall
during the traditional festival along with her friends, said, "Her family were already
using millets in their daily diet. It is not easy to switch to millet food from the
contemporary food including junk. It will take some time, but once we get used to it,
then there is nothing as tasty and as healthy as millet." In many cases, people avoid
millets due to lack of recipes. Keeping this in mind, many recipe books were released
in market which had millets listed as the main ingredient. "For the past two years, the
response for millets has been good. The growing health consciousness makes millet a
natural choice for people. Homemakers must make use of the recipe books to prepare
variety of dishes using millets," said Jambuga Ramakrishnan, co-ordinator of ladies
club associations in Trichy. Moreover, the awareness about the health benefits of
millets is yet to reach the middle class and poor people, who still prefer contemporary
food. "Millets produced in organic method is far better than the ones produced using
fertilizers. People must realize they their intake of chemicals (Monosodium
Glutamate) in the form of food is harmful before it becomes too late. The food was
banned in China, the place where it was made. But here, we consume it not
considering its ill-effects," said G Sathiyabhama, joint secretary of International
Naturopathy Organisation. Until a few decades ago, a hand-pound rice or brown rice
used to be an integral part of the diet of people in parts of rural Tamil Nadu. The
innumerable health benefits of brown rice were well received by our ancestors.
However, as generations passed, people started forgetting the values of healthy foods
as junk foods started alluring taste buds. Fact is that, brown rice has now become a
costly product which is available only in super markets. Moreover, the demand has
come down drastically as people aren't aware of the health benefits. In order to
promote the traditional food, the integrated child development services (ICDS)
scheme conducted a nine-day 'traditional food festival' recently in the city. During the
fest, millet varieties worth Rs10,43,702 were sold by the self help groups, which is a
sign that magic of millets is spreading again among people.
Government cuts minimum export price of onion to $350/tonne
The cabinet on Wednesday approved the minimum export price ( MEP) of onions
from $500 per tonne to $350 per tonne, citing improved supplies and announced a
hike in the mining royalty rates for about 55 minerals including ore and bauxite, a
move that would please the 11 mineral-rich states in the country that have been
demanding higher royalties. The government had imposed an minimum export price
of of $300 per tonne on onions in June and raised it in July to $500 after prices
spiked. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also decided that the country's
mineral allocation policy would be decided by the institution that succeeds the
Planning Commission. Mining royalties were last revised by the Centre in 2009 and
though the UPA government had set up a panel to examine the issue, there was no
change made in the rates. "The cabinet approved revision of mineral royalty. There are
55 such items but this excludes coal, lignite and sand for stowing," said telecom, IT,
law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Under the Mines and Minerals
(Development and Regulations) Act of 1957, the royalties from mining operations go
to states but the royalty rates are set by the Centre. The royalties are charged on an ad
valorem basis which means they are linked to the prevailing price of the mineral. The
cabinet also gave its nod for the Nagpur Metro Rail Project to be built along two
corridors of 38-odd kilometers at a cost of around Rs 8,700 crore. The Cabinet
Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Rs 1,555 crore as the government's
contribution to the project in the form of equity and sub-ordinate debt.
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