Tuesday January 21, 2020
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Grown on land, sold on net : A new era for farmers!

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HYDERABAD: After clothes, accessories and electronics, crops are all set to go online! India’s postal department is set to launch a pilot programme that seeks to help farmers sell their produce over the Internet, that too without spending a penny on transport. India Post shall introduce the probative programme in two locations-Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over the next couple of weeks. The modus operandi will enable postmasters to use smartphones to take photos of the farm products and upload the details on a website that will serve as a trading platform. india_post_logo4

“While it is free for farmers, India Post will collect a nominal fee from the buyers, apart from stipulating a condition that buyers should use the services of India Post for transporting the farm commodity to the required destination,” BV Sudhakar, chief postmaster general for covering the two-Telugu speaking states, told ET.

An Andhra-based firm, NGIT Systems, has built the trading platform for India Post. The company has experience in developing online platforms for farmers to sell, buy and lease farms, crops, manures, cattle and farming equipment. With the proliferation of instant chat apps and courier services doing the exchange of letters rapidly, this initiative by India Post aims to put its vast network of post offices and employees to its best use and simultaneously traverse new-age business opportunities to generate revenue.

Terming it as the first of its kind initiative, Sudhakar said that, based on the results of pilot project, the postal department will decide on extending the service across the country. The idea of launching an agri-commodity trading platform was arrived at as part of India Post’s asset maximisation strategy wherein it plans on improving revenue from its existing human and physical assets, including logistics network, said Sudhakar. Aimed at encouraging the postmasters in villages to participate in the new initiative and help improve revenue, the department is planning on special incentives packages and increasing the fleet size. The department expects to cover at least a third of these states and is targeting a minimum Rs 10 crore in revenue from agri-commodity trading in the first year.

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India to Set up Bio-Gas Plants to Tackle Pollution, but Experts Unsure

India Plans Bio-Gas Plants to Tackle Toxic Pollution, But Experts Skeptical

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Farmer India
An Indian farmer walks through his paddy field as he burns the paddy husk in Chandigarh, India. VOA

India is planning to set up more than 100 bio-gas plants and provide thousands of farmers with machines to dispose of crop stubble in a bid to halt the choking crop-burning pollution that blights the country every winter.

A major source of the smog that engulfs vast swathes of northern India, including the capital New Delhi, is the burning the straw and stubble of the previous rice crop to prepare for new planting in October and November.

New Delhi is regularly judged to be one of the world’s most polluted major cities.

Government-backed Indian Oil Corp Ltd will invite private companies to apply to set up 140 bio-gas plants that will use rice stubble as feed stock, said two government officials, who didn’t wish to be identified in line with official policy.

The plants would cost 35 billion rupees ($487.67 million) and each would require two tons of crop residue every hour for at least 300 days to produce “an optimum amount” of compressed natural gas (CNG), one of the sources said.

The government would earmark funds for the project that would make it attractive for farmers to sell their waste rather than burn it, they said.

India pollution
A woman crosses a railway line on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India. VOA

The stubble pollution has become more acute in recent years because mechanized harvesters leave more residue than crops plucked by hand.

Other than helping farmers sell their residue to the new bio-gas plants, the government would provide 100,000 new machines every year to farmers to dispose of the farm waste in their fields, the sources said.

“We’ll give farmers the choice to either get rid of crop residue or sell it to the bio CNG plants,” one of the sources said.

Doubts persist

Environmental experts were skeptical.

Also Read- Pollution-Linked Deaths Highest in India: Study

“Given the amount of resources that the government has, what will decide the efficacy of this plan is consistent engagement with farmers,” said Nandikesh Sivalingam, a program manager for Greenpeace.

“But if you expect results next winter, it can’t happen.” (VOA)