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24th September Current Affairs

Indian Agri-Tech

(GS-III: Agriculture: transport and marketing of agricultural produce)

In News:

FSG, a global consulting firm, has launched the Agritech Report 2022, “What’s next for Indian agri-tech.

Details:

Agricultural technology, or agri-tech, is the use of technology in agriculture based on agricultural science, agronomy, and agricultural engineering.

It aims to improve yield, efficiency, profitability, and sustainability of agricultural operations.

Key takeaways from the report:

Agri-tech startups are driving India’s agri-tech innovations and investment story with significant private equity inflows.

Areas of focus: Market linkages, agri-fintech, farm management software, remote sensing and advisory, and farm automation.

Technology has irreversibly disrupted the traditional agricultural value chain – from how farmers access information and inputs to how they grow and sell their produce.

As per Agricultural experts, Ashok Gulati: Agritech startups can steer the shift from government-controlled agricultural markets towards more demand-driven digital markets.

Currently, it is estimated that there are about 600 to 700 agri-tech startups in India operating at different levels of agri-value chains.

Many of them use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT), etc, to unlock the potential of big data for greater resource use efficiency, transparency and inclusiveness.

Impact of Agri-tech startups:

Ninjacart reduced wastage to 4 per cent compared to up to 25 per cent in traditional chains through a demand-driven harvest schedule.

Dehaat has enabled up to 50 per cent increase in farmers’ income as a result of savings in input costs, increased farm productivity, and better price discovery.

Other examples of the use of technology in agriculture:

Seed quality enhancing:

High-yielding varieties and genetically engineered seeds (BT Cotton) lead to efficient use of pesticides, water, etc and can increase yields.

Efficiency in farm inputs:

Water: drip irrigation technology, use of sensors for moisture control, sprinklers for irrigation.

Fertilizers and pesticides: fertilizer sensors, drones for spraying pesticides

Efficient input data: Kisan suvidha portal, M-Kisan

Electricity: Solar-powered water pumps.

Labour: Mechanization of harvest led to improved labour productivity.

Harvest management:

PUSA Biodecomposer- for dealing with stubble/crop residue

Agricultural waste is used as input for bioethical production.

Nutri-gardens

In News:

Poshan Vatikas or Nutri- gardens are being set up across the country to provide easy and affordable access  to fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and herbs

What is Nutri-garden?

Nutri-garden is an advanced form of kitchen garden in which fruits and vegetables are grown as a source of food and income.

In order to provide the right kind of nourishment, Poshan Vatikas or Nutri-gardens are being set under POSHAN Abhiyaan. It will provide easy and affordable access to locally produced fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and herbs to women and children.

Benefits:

Enhance dietary diversity by providing key micronutrients through local fruits and vegetables.

It will reduce external dependency and make communities Atmanirbharfor their nutritional security.

POSHAN Abhiyaan:

Launched in 2018, POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women & lactating mothers.

It is part of Mission Poshan 2.0.

Poshan Maah” is celebrated during the month of September 2022. Through Jan Andolan and community mobilization, activities for setting up Nutri-gardens or retro-fitting Poshan Vatikas with backyard poultry/fishery units are being carried out at Anganwadi centres.

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Women and Child Development.

G4 countries highlight ‘urgent need’ for reform in U.N. Security Council

In News:

India’s Foreign Minister met with his counterparts from Germany, Brazil and Japan under The Group of Four (G4) banner.

Key Highlights:

Support to each other: They reiterated their support for each other’s bids to become permanent members of the UNSC.

Support for African Nations: G4 also reiterated its support for African countries being represented in a permanent and non-permanent capacity on a reformed Council.

Urgent reforms: N. decision-making bodies needed to be urgently reformed as global issues were increasingly complex and interconnected, a joint press statement from the group said.

No meaningful progress: G4 ministers expressed concern that the 76th Session of the N.General Assembly did not make “meaningful progress” in the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN).

Recommendation of the President: The G4 Ministers welcomed the recommendation of the President of the 76th General Assembly to “gradually move the process towards text-based negotiation

Intergovernmental Negotiations:

IGN is a group of nation-states working within the United Nations to further reform the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

The IGN is composed of several different international organizations, namely:

  • African Union
  • G4 nations
  • Uniting for Consensus Group (UfC)
  • 69 Group of Developing Countries
  • Arab League
  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Algal biofuels

In News:

India’s Reliance Industries Ltd recently released a short video on the social media platform Instagram highlighting the cutting-edge algae-to-fuel technology it has developed.

Details:

Algae can be used to synthesize large volumes of oil (20 times more than that of mustard per acre), grow fast (10 times quicker than terrestrial plants) and capture carbon dioxide (CO2).

The company has been successfully running large algae raceway ponds for the last five years at their facility near Jamnagar, to convert sunshine, CO2 and seawater into bio-oil.

It also displayed the utilisation of catalytic hydrothermal liquefaction technology to convert algae biomass to oil. Under this process, water is used as a solvent under high temperature and pressure to extract oil from the biomass.

The benefits of this technology include direct utilisation of wet biomass without any need for drying and conversion of every organic fragment of biomass into the oil without any wastage.

Lancet Commission criticizes WHO for acting ‘too slowly

In News:

The Lancet Commission on lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic castigated the World Health Organization (WHO) for acting “too cautiously and too slowly” on several important matters.

Issues over which WHO was criticized:

Warning about the human transmissibility of the virus

Declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

Support international travel protocols designed to slow the spread of the virus

Endorse the public use of face masks as protection

Recognise airborne transmission of the virus.

The Lancet COVID-19 Commission:

It was established in July 2020

28 commissioners were appointed for the global experts in:

  • Public policy
  • International cooperation
  • Epidemiology and vaccinology
  • Economics and financial systems
  • Sustainability sciences
  • Mental health.

The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is the world’s highest-impact general medical journal, and one of the oldest. It was founded in England in 1823.