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Bihar declares all its districts disaster-hit, how will it impact the farmers

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Patna:  The Bihar government on Saturday declared all the 38 districts in the state as disaster-hit in the aftermath of the heavy damage to standing crops caused by thunderstorms, unseasonal rain and hailstorms in the past two months, officials said.

Principal secretary of the state disaster management department Vyasji said the government has declared all the districts disaster-hit following a proposal sent by his department.

The government took the decision as a RBI directive says that bank loans to farmers can be rescheduled only when a state is declared disaster-hit, he said.

“With all the districts declared disaster-hit, now the farmers would not be forced by the banks to repay their loans. It will be a big relief for farmers,” he said.

According to officials of the agriculture department, the government had already asked various bank branches in the state to reschedule the loans to the farmers in cyclone-hit districts and later also in the districts which were hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorms.

The state government has also asked officials to prepare a contingency plan keeping in mind the delayed monsoon and deficient rain predicted this year in Bihar.

“The met department first predicted that monsoon will reach Bihar in the second week of June. Later it revised the forecast to the third week. Now monsoon is likely to hit Bihar on June 22,” officials said. (IANS)

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Small Farmers in Asia Miss Out On Climate Change Resilient Seeds

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders

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pollution, seeds
Women farmers use sticks to make holes in the soil for seeds, on a farm near Pangalengan, West Java, Indonesia. VOA

Millions of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia are missing out on new, resilient seeds that could improve their yields in the face of climate change, according to an index published Monday.

The 24 top seed companies fail to reach four-fifths of the region’s 170 million smallholder farmers for reasons such as poor infrastructure, high prices and lack of training, the Access to Seeds Index found.

Access to seeds bred to better withstand changing weather conditions such as higher temperatures is vital as farmers battle loss of productivity due to climate change, said Ido Verhagen, head of the Access to Seeds Foundation, which published the index.

Egypt, pollution, seeds
A farmer burns rice straw at his field in Qalyub, causing a “black cloud” of smoke that spreads across the Nile valley, near the agricultural road which leads to the capital city of Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“We see increasing demands for new varieties, because [farmers] are affected by climate change,” Verhagen told Reuters.

“If we want to feed a growing population, if we want to tackle climate change, if we want to go towards a more sustainable food system, we have to start with seeds,” he said.

Smallholder farmers managing between one to 10 hectares of land provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia, said the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 pollution, seeds
FILE – Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

But traditional methods of preserving seeds from harvests are not always sufficient to cope with a changing climate.

About 340 million people were hungry in 2017 in South and Southeast Asia, a number that has barely changed since 2015, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

“The question is how to get markets to provide the varieties [of seeds] that farmers want, at prices that they’re able to pay,” said Shawn McGuire, agricultural officer at the FAO.

Some smaller companies are leading the way in helping smallholders access more resilient seeds, Verhagen said, such as Thailand-based East-West Seed which topped the index ahead of global giants Bayer and Syngenta, which ranked second and third.

 pollution, seeds
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders, he said, while Indian companies Acsen HyVeg and Namdhari, ranked sixth and seventh respectively, have also reached small-scale farmers with seeds.

Also Read: Climate Change’s Fight Harder Than Thought: Study

The index, funded by the Dutch government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ranks companies based on seven areas including strategies to help small farmers and supporting conservation. (VOA)