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With pastures shrinking, India may be importing milk by 2021

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Bengaluru, February 24: India may have to import milk in four years, if it cannot increase fodder supply for its 299 million cattle, as rising pressure on land reduces pastures nationwide.

Spurred by rising incomes, a growing population and changing food preferences, the demand for milk and milk products will grow to at least 210 million tonnes by 2021-22, a rise of 36 per cent over five years, according to government estimates. To meet this demand, production must grow by 5.5 per cent per annum, according to the State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) report. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, milk production grew at 6.2 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively.

To boost milk yield, India would need to generate 1,764 million tonnes of fodder by 2020, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of government data. But existing sources can only manage about 900 million tonnes of fodder — a shortage of 49 per cent.

Demand for private consumption has risen from five per cent per annum in the period 1998-2005 to 8.5 per cent per annum between 2005 and 2012, according to an Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, report.

This demand and supply gap has pushed up milk prices by an average of 16 per cent per annum, according to the 2015 SOIL report.

In the decade to 2015, milk production went up 59 per cent from 92 million tonnes to 146 million tonnes in 2015. But fodder shortages may knock India off its position as the world’s top milk producer (it contributes nearly 17 per cent of global production).

The milk productivity of India’s livestock is less than half (48 per cent) of the global average: 987 kg per lactation compared to the global average of 2,038 kg per lactation.

The availability and quality of fodder has a direct bearing on the quantity and quality of milk productivity, the data show. All the three states that topped milk productivity in terms of gram per day — Rajasthan (704), Haryana (877) and Punjab (1,032) — had earmarked more than 10 per cent of their cultivable land for pastures, according to the 2015 SOIL report. The national average is 337.

Currently, all three types of fodder are in short supply — green (63 per cent), dry (24 per cent) and concentrates (76 per cent). Only four per cent of total cultivable land in India is used for fodder production, a proportion that has remained stagnant for the last four decades.

Considering the demand for milk, land under fodder production needs to be doubled, according to a December 2016 report of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.

Shortages are forcing states to now source fodder from elsewhere. “The quality of fodder is a concern. We are now looking to source fodder from Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh),” said Sudhir Mishra, who runs a dairy farm in Ranchi (Jharkhand).

But major portions of grazing lands have either been degraded or encroached upon, according to the Parliamentary Committee report.

However, the availability of crop residues, the largest single source of fodder, has been impacted by increasing pressure on land and the replacement of traditional cereal crops, especially coarse ones. Crop residue includes coarse and fine straws, leguminous and pulses straws.

Given the importance of food and cash crops, it is very unlikely that the area under fodder cultivation will increase substantially, the parliamentary committee report said.

“If India fails to achieve substantial production growth, the country would need to resort to significant imports from the world market which has the potential to cause prices to spurt since India is a large consumer,” said 2015 SOIL report

To cut costs, easy access to fodder is important for small farmers

Feed cost constitutes about 60-70 per cent of operating expenses on dairy farms. Nearly 70 per cent of India’s milk production comes from small and marginal farmers, who depend on homegrown fodder. Unlike big operators like Mishra, they cannot afford to buy fodder from other states.

Take the case of Dundappa Patil, a 10th-class pass from Belagavi in North Karnataka, who took a loan of Rs 35,000 for dairy farming eight years ago.

The process of applying and getting a loan for the enterprise was simple and quick because Patil was covered by a scheme for unemployed youth in Karnataka. He went through a crash course in dairy farming in Belagavi and in less than a month, set up business with four buffalo.

Patil’s target was to sell 20 litres of milk every day to a local cooperative society. But the yield per buffalo on Patil’s farm was less than 2 litres a day; his buffalo produced less than half the milk he hoped they would.

“I realised that just buying a good buffalo was not enough, quality and quantity of fodder too had to be good,” he said. “You have to be ready to spend a lot of time and money on sourcing fodder.”

Patil said he and other villagers were using a common pasture on a hill 5 km from the village. “But that is seasonal and not enough for the all the village cattle,” he said.

So, he tried buying the fodder, but then the business did not look viable.

The contribution of livestock to the incomes of landless and small farmers ranges between 20-50 per cent, and the poorer the family, the greater the potential of dairy farming’s contribution to livelihood, according to the SOIL report.

Unlike agriculture, which tends to be seasonal, dairy farming provides returns through the year. It can minimise the risks agricultural households face when they run short of cash.

In Belagavi, that scenario did not work for Patil because he could not overcome the fodder shortage — an issue India must address if it is to be self-sufficient in milk and dairy farming is to succeed.

Eventually, after a year, Patil sold the buffalo and repaid half the loan. The bank waived the rest after failing to recover it. Today, he is a construction worker in Belagavi city.

By Gangadhar S. Patil (IANS, Indiaspend.org) 

India

Government forms committee for regulation of online media

It will do so keeping in mind the existing FDI norms, programmes and advertising code for TV channels and norms circulated by the representative bodies of media organisations.

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New Delhi, April 5 : In a move to establish regulatory framework for online media and news portals, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has set up a committee that will recommend formation of appropriate policy.

The committee, which has Secretary of the ministry as its convener, was set up a day after the ministry withdrew its guidelines on fake news following directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to an order of the ministry of April 4, the 10-member committee includes secretaries of the ministries of Home, and Electronics and Information Technology, and the departments of Legal Affairs, and Industrial Policy and Promotion.

It also has a representatives from the Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and the Indian Broadcasters Federation.

The Terms of the reference (ToR) of the committee include delineation of the sphere of online information dissemination which needs to be brought under regulation, on the lines applicable to the print and electronic media.

The committee will recommend appropriate policy formulation for online media/ news portals and online content platforms, including digital broadcasting, that encompasses entertainment, infotainment and news and media aggregators.

“It will do so keeping in mind the existing FDI norms, programmes and advertising code for TV channels and norms circulated by the representative bodies of media organisations,” the order said.

The committee will also analyse the international scenario on the existing regulatory mechanism with a view to incorporate the best practices.

The order said the content on private television channels is regulated by the Programme and Advertisement Codes, while the PCI has norms to regulate the print media.

“There are no norms or guidelines to regulate the online media websites and news portals. Therefore, it has been decided to constitute a committee to frame and suggest a regulatory framework for online media/ news portals including digital broadcasting and entertainment/ infotainment sites and news/ media aggregators,” it said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had made a hasty retreat on Tuesday as the Prime Minister withdrew within hours of release of his government’s order that threatened to take away the accreditation of journalists involved in producing

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Duty on China imports, GST slow down India’s solar additions: UN report

The 86-page report — Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 — released by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance blames Indian policies for slowing down the speed to tap solar power.

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UN Environment head Erik Solheim

New Delhi, April 5 : India’s imposition of duty on Chinese solar cells and modules shipped and levy of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on panels have significantly slowed down solar capacity additions last year, a UN report said on Thursday.

It says developing economies, comprising India, China and Brazil, committed $177 billion to renewables last year, up 20 per cent, compared to $103 billion for developed countries, down 19 per cent.

This was the largest tilt in favour of developing countries yet seen. It was only in 2015 that the developing world first invested more in green energy than developed economies.

A record 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power, excluding large hydro, were commissioned across the globe in 2017, up from 143GW in 2016 and far out-stripping the 70GW of net fossil fuel generating capacity added last year.

The 86-page report — Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 — released by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance blames Indian policies for slowing down the speed to tap solar power.

It says the solar activity was held back by an unexpected rise in PV module prices in local currency terms, due to a sudden reduction in the oversupply of imported Chinese units, exacerbated by the imposition of a 7.5 per cent import duty on modules and a local GST on panels.

There was also a slowing in the pace of solar auctions around India.

In the medium term, PV installations look set to increase sharply, as India seeks to hit its ambitious target of 100GW of solar by 2022.

However, that acceleration did not materialise in 2017.

The report says the ‘big three’ of China, India and Brazil accounted for just over half of global investment in renewables, excluding large hydro, last year, with China alone representing 45 per cent, up from 35 per cent a year earlier.

However, the report says India’s investment oscillating in the $6-14 billion range since 2010 but still not reaching the sort of levels that would be required for that country to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious goals for 2022.

India came fourth in the world rankings by country for renewable energy investment last year, at $10.9 billion, down 20 per cent.

Solar took the biggest share, at $6.7 billion, with wind at $4 billion. These lead sectors were up three per cent and down 41 per cent in dollar terms respectively.

Venture capital and private equity investment in renewable energy fell by exactly a third in the world in 2017 to $1.8 billion, just a sixth of its 2008 peak of more than $10 billion.

However, India beat Europe into second place for the second time in three years.

India’s venture capital and private equity investment rose 27 per cent to $457 million, or 26 per cent of the total, while Europe’s fell 26 per cent to $287 million, a 16 per cent share.

India’s investment grew strongly because it secured three of the five largest deals.

Two of those were wind companies raising funds to expand in India, a fiercely competitive market with huge growth potential that is attracting many foreign investors.

The largest deal was secured by Greenko Energy, an independent power producer based in Hyderabad, which raised $155 million in PE expansion capital from GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The pair had already invested $230 million in the company in 2016.

Another Indian independent power producer, Hero Future Energies, raised $125 million in PE expansion capital from the International Finance Corporation and the IFC Global Infrastructure Fund.

The third large Indian deal was secured by Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions, which claims to be India’s biggest rooftop solar developer, having installed 100MW since the company was founded in 2011.

“The extraordinary surge in solar investment, around the world, shows how much can be achieved when we commit to growth without harming the environment,” UN Environment head Erik Solheim said in a statement.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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Indian-owned Swami fills Accra’s accommodation gap with $12 mn estate

Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

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Knight Frank

Accra, March 31 : As the Ghanaian government struggles to find a solution to the country’s accommodation problem, Indian-owned Swami International has stepped in with a $12 million, 12.4 acre Paradise Estates township made up of 102 houses in the capital Accra.

This is part of the company’s $50 million investment in real estate across two other West African countries, Gambia and Senegal, its General Manager, Tarun Singh, told IANS.

Swami entered the West African real estate market two years ago, Singh said, in response to an African Development Bank (AfDB) report that the continent “was growing with an urbanisation rate of 3.4 per cent, with cities across the continent experiencing the fastest urban growth rate globally. Unfortunately, it looks like this is not being matched by the ability to provide affordable houses”.

He said the Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

The international real estate group, Knight Frank, in a report on Africa’s real estate sector for 2017, said rapid population growth across Africa — faster than any other global region — together with urbanisation, is driving the property market activity across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Singh said the company had already completed a similar project in Senegal and had moved on to a second one at Diamniodo, a new development at the new airport.

“Our decision to come to West Africa is due to the peace and security we find in the countries that we are operating in,” he added.

Singh, however, said there were some problems that needed to be solved, including skilled workers to be engaged on large-scale housing projects and poor utility services, in order to attract more investors into the real estate sector in the three countries.

In addition to the provision of houses in Gambia, Singh said the company has also provided rural electrification and boreholes for the people. “In addition, we have also ventured into agriculture with the cultivation of potatoes in Senegal and bananas in the Gambia,” he said.

The AfDB has identified a huge deficit in the real estate sector which it said had hit the poor hard because of affordability and this had remained a key challenge to developing the housing finance market.

By : Francis Kokutse

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])

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