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As per Assocham, the Indian economy may reach 7% in 2018

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As per Assocham, the Indian economy may reach 7% in 2018.
As per Assocham, the Indian economy may reach 7% in 2018. IANS
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  • Because of demonitisation, the economy may reach 7% in 2018: Assocham
  • Inflation may range between 4-5.5 per cent towards the second half of the next calendar year
  • Assocham expects the forthcoming Union Budget to be “heavily tilted” towards the farmers

New Delhi, Dec 24, 2017: With government policies set to tilt more towards the “stress-ridden rural landscape” next year in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Indian economy may reach a 7 per cent growth in 2018 while recovering from the lingering effects of demonetisation and GST, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday.

“After ‘disruptions’ from the lingering effects of demonetisation and GST roll-out, the Indian economy may reach a 7 per cent growth in 2018 with government policies tilting towards the stress-ridden rural landscape in the penultimate year before the Lok Sabha elections,” according to the industry body’s “Year-Ahead Outlook”.

“Against GDP growth of 6.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2017-18, the economic expansion may reach the crucial 7 per cent mark by the end of September 2018 quarter, while inflation may range between 4-5.5 per cent towards the second half of the next calendar year with the monsoon being a key imponderable,” it said.

Assocham President Sandeep Jajodia said the projections were based on the assumption of stability in government policies, good monsoons, pick-up in industrial activity and credit growth as also stability in the foreign exchange rates.

“The worries on account of crude oil shooting up are likely to abate, if there are no fresh geo-political shockers.”

According to the Assocham outlook, while the underlying bullish sentiment should continue to prevail in the Indian stock market in 2018, the returns on equity may not be as robust as in 2017.

“This is because the 2017 bull run has already factored in the return of growth steadiness in 2018 and the corporate earnings witnessing a pick-up,” it said.

The industry lobby said in the run-up to state assembly elections in several politically important states, the political economy is set to tilt towards the farm sector “which has been witnessing some stress”.

“The stress in the agriculture sector is traceable to lack of reforms in the rural economy. Despite political promises, several of the states have not been able to reform the APMC Act, which restricts farmers to sell their produce to a particular set of cartels.”

Assocham expects the forthcoming Union Budget to be “heavily tilted” towards the farmers while the industrial focus would be on sectors which create jobs.

“A realisation seems to be dawning that growth per se is not enough, the benefits must be seen in the form of higher employment. The year 2018 would see policies in this direction”, the statement added. (IANS)

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The Future Farmer is Here and He is A Robot

The heavy lifting on Iron Ox’s indoor farm is done by Angus, which rolls about the indoor farm on omnidirectional wheels. Its main job is to shuttle maturing produce to another,

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Iron Ox CEO Brandon Alexander gives a tour at his robotic indoor farm in San Carlos, California. VOA

Brandon Alexander would like to introduce you to Angus, the farmer of the future. He’s heavyset, weighing in at nearly 1,000 pounds, not to mention a bit slow. But he’s strong enough to hoist 800-pound pallets of maturing vegetables and can move them from place to place on his own.

Sure, Angus is a robot. But don’t hold that against him, even if he looks more like a large tanning bed than C-3PO.

To Alexander, Angus and other robots are key to a new wave of local agriculture that aims to raise lettuce, basil and other produce in metropolitan areas while conserving water and sidestepping the high costs of human labor. It’s a big challenge, and some earlier efforts have flopped. Even Google’s “moonshot” laboratory, known as X, couldn’t figure out how to make the economics work.

After raising $6 million and tinkering with autonomous robots for two years, Alexander’s startup Iron Ox says it’s ready to start delivering crops of its robotically grown vegetables to people’s salad bowls. “And they are going to be the best salads you ever tasted,” says the 33-year-old Alexander, a one-time Oklahoma farmboy turned Google engineer turned startup CEO.

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The temperatures of some two dozen plant varietals are monitored at Iron Ox, a robotic indoor farm, in San Carlos, California. VOA

Iron Ox planted its first robot farm in an 8,000-square-foot warehouse in San Carlos, California, a suburb located 25 miles south of San Francisco. Although no deals have been struck yet, Alexander says Iron Ox has been talking to San Francisco Bay area restaurants interested in buying its leafy vegetables and expects to begin selling to supermarkets next year.

The San Carlos warehouse is only a proving ground for Iron Ox’s long-term goals. It plans to set up robot farms in greenhouses that will rely mostly on natural sunlight instead of high-powered indoor lighting that sucks up expensive electricity. Initially, though, the company will sell its produce at a loss in order to remain competitive.

During the next few years, Iron Ox wants to open robot farms near metropolitan areas across the U.S. to serve up fresher produce to restaurants and supermarkets. Most of the vegetables and fruit consumed in the U.S. is grown in California, Arizona, Mexico and other nations. That means many people in U.S. cities are eating lettuce that’s nearly a week old by the time it’s delivered.

There are bigger stakes as well. The world’s population is expected to swell to 10 billion by 2050 from about 7.5 billion now, making it important to find ways to feed more people without further environmental impact, according to a report from the World Resources Institute.

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A robotic arm lifts plants being grown at Iron Ox, a robotic indoor farm, in San Carlos, California. VOA

Iron Ox, Alexander reasons, can be part of the solution if its system can make the leap from its small, laboratory-like setting to much larger greenhouses.

The startup relies on a hydroponic system that conserves water and automation in place of humans who seem increasingly less interested in U.S. farming jobs that pay an average of $13.32 per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nearly half of U.S. farmworkers planting and picking crops aren’t in the U.S. legally, based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The heavy lifting on Iron Ox’s indoor farm is done by Angus, which rolls about the indoor farm on omnidirectional wheels. Its main job is to shuttle maturing produce to another, as-yet unnamed robot, which transfers plants from smaller growing pods to larger ones, using a mechanical arm whose joints are lubricated with “food-safe” grease.

It’s a tedious process to gently pick up each of the roughly 250 plants on each pallet and transfer them to their bigger pods, but the robot doesn’t seem to mind the work. Iron Ox still relies on people to clip its vegetables when they are ready for harvest, but Alexander says it is working on another robot that will eventually handle that job too.

Also Read: Asian Farms Tackle Drug Resistance with Apps and Dictionary

Alexander formerly worked on robotics at Google X, but worked on drones, not indoor farms. While there, he met Jon Binney, Iron Ox’s co-founder and chief technology offer. The two men became friends and began to brainstorm about ways they might be able to use their engineering skills for the greater good.

“If we can feed people using robots, what could be more impactful than that?” Alexander says. (VOA)