Bonus for lentils, higher MSP for paddy

To boost production of pulses during the kharif season, the Centre recently announced a bonus of Rs. 200 a quintal on the revised minimum support price for tur, moong and urad dal (lentils) for the marketing season of 2015-16.

  • The minimum support price for paddy was increased by Rs. 50 a quintal for the kharif marketing season of the financial year.

Minimum Support Price (MSP):

  • The Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme is a scheme of the Government of India (GOI) to safeguard the interests of the farmers.
  • Government fixes MSPs of various kharif and rabi crops every year on the recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP.
  • Under this Scheme the government declares the minimum support Prices of various agricultural produces and assures the farmers that their agricultural produce will be purchased at the MSP, thereby preventing its distress sale.
  • Procurement under MSP is undertaken by the designated Central and State Government agencies and Cooperatives.
  • MSP is in the nature of minimum price offered by the Government. Producers have the option to sell their produce to Government agencies or in the open market as is advantageous to them.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

India’s only double coconut tree artificially pollinated

Recently, scientists at the Indian Botanical Garden in West Bengal’s Howrah district have carried out artificial pollination of the only double coconut tree in India.

  • It bears the largest seed known to science.
  • This artificial pollination is a result of decades of work by scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part) of the plant, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction. This takes place in the angiosperms, the flower bearing plants.

About double coconut tree ( Lodoicea maldivica ):

  • It is one of the rare and globally threatened species of palm. The tree was planted at the botanical garden in 1894.
  • The tree took almost a hundred years to mature.
  • The Double Coconut tree not only bears the largest seed known to science — weighing around 25 kg — but this unique species is also the longest surviving palm which can live for as long as 1,000 years.
  • The tree also bears the largest leaf among palms and one leaf can thatch a small hut.
  • This species of palm is diecious (where male and female flowers are borne on different plants).
  • The palm tree is located in the large palm house of the Botanical Garden which has the largest collection of palms in South East Asia with around 110 palm species.
  • This rare tree can be found in only two of the 115 Seychelles islands and is also called Coco de Mer (coconut of the sea).

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Cultivation of paddy, sugarcane threat to Hampi monuments

UNESCO, in its “State of Conservation” report on the World Heritage Site, has said that cultivation of paddy and sugarcane pose a threat to the conservation of the historical Hampi group of monuments.

  • UNESCO has flagged irrigation for water-intensive agriculture, traffic close to the site and seasonal flooding of the Tungabhadra as challenges.

How cultivation of these crops affect the site?

The threat of agriculture is water-logging that weakens the foundation of minor monuments situated on farm land. There have been incidents of monuments sinking or damage caused due to dampness and wetness.

Hampi:

  • Hampi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India located near Hospet town in the Karnataka state.
  • It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • The emperor Ashoka’s minor rock edicts in Nittur & Udegolan (both in Bellary district, Karnataka) lead one to believe that this region was within the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BCE.
  • A Brahmi inscription & a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CE were also discovered from the excavation site.
  • The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE.
  • It is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
  • Hampi has various notable Hindu temples with some vedanta mythology inside the temples, some of which are still active places of worship.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

IMD forecasts deficit monsoon

According to the recently released India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s annual monsoon forecast the southwest Monsoon’s overall rainfall prediction for 2015 is 93%, three percentage points below normal.

The probability of deficit rainfall is higher at 33% over normal rainfall pegged at 28%.

  • The report also notes that El Nino conditions are likely to persist during the south-west monsoon.

India Meteorological Department (IMD):

  • It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It was established in 1875.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
  • IMD is headquartered in New Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica.
  • It has the responsibility for forecasting, naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the
  • Malacca Straits,

  • Bay of Bengal,
  • Arabian Sea
  • Persian Gulf.

  • IMD became a member of the World Meteorological Organization after independence in April 1949.
  • In collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the IMD also uses the Indian Remote Sensing series and the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT) for weather monitoring of the Indian subcontinent.
  • IMD was the first weather bureau of a developing country to develop and maintain its own satellite system.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Nod for KERALA climate change action plan

Kerala is all set to launch a long-term programme to develop resilience to climate change.

  • The Ministry of Forest, Environment, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has approved the Kerala State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC), strengthening the hands of the State in taking up a slew of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

Details of the Plan:

  • It is a five-year package which envisages a budget requirement of Rs.1,170 crore for projects in eight key sectors, namely
    1. agriculture and animal husbandry,
    2. fisheries and coastal ecosystem,
    3. forest and biodiversity,
    4. water resources,
    5. health,
    6. energy,
    7. urban front,
    8. transport and tourism.
  • It seeks to address the negative consequences of climate change and reduce the associated risks.
  • It also aims at integrating climate change strategies into the development planning process.

Challenges posed by changing Climate?

  • According to the projected climate change scenario, the atmospheric temperature across Kerala would rise by 2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
  • It estimates that if the sea level rises by one metre, 169 sq km of the coastal region surrounding Kochi would be inundated.
  • Paddy production in Kerala would drop by 6% with each degree rise in temperature.
  • Crops such as cardamom, coffee, tea, and black pepper will also be affected by higher temperature and changing rainfall pattern.

Sources: The Hindu.

Cabinet approves gas pooling for fertilizer sector

The Cabinet recently approved a proposal to pool or average out prices of domestic natural gas and imported LNG used by fertilizer plants.

  • Why? To make the cost of fuel uniform and affordable.

Advantages:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved averaging of different rates of domestic and imported gas to ensure supply of fuel to all urea plants at a uniform delivery cost.
  • This would help in focusing on improving plant efficiency and might help in price advantage in sourcing of LNG.
  • The move would help bring down the cost of fuel and help save subsidy.

Details:

  • Fertiliser plants consume about 42.25 million standard cubic metres a day (mscmd) of gas for manufacture of subsidised urea. Out of this, 26.50 mscmd comes from domestic fields and the balance 15.75 mmscmd is imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).
  • The $5.18 per million British thermal unit price of domestic gas is about half the cost of LNG. Gas pooling would help save Rs.1,550 crore in subsidy, and would benefit 30 urea plants.
  • The cost of gas, which is the most important component for production of urea, varies from plant to plant owing to differential rates at which imported LNG is contracted as well as the cost of transportation.

Sources: The Hindu.

Chadar Badar art

What is it?

It is a rare and obscure form of performing art. It is an ancient form of puppetry which tells stories of the  Santhal way of life, and migration.

Where is it celebrated?

It is prevalent among the Santhal tribes of Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Details:

It is performed with small puppets of dark seasoned wood and bamboo, manipulated by a combination of rods and strings to songs accompanied by Santhali or Bengali songs.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.