Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

Figuring origins of our food and globalization in our food supply

August 12, 2016

This is a superb piece based on this research.

The authors track where most of our foods come from and how much of our food supply is globalised. On an average in most countries around 70% of food come from elsewhere. There are images and maps to figure all this interesting bit:


Despite crash in prices, coconuts still costly for consumer in Karnataka

July 4, 2016

When this blog posted about urgent need to inform and communicate about agricultural sector, these are the kind of developments one was talking about.

Apparently, there has been a surge in cocnut supply in Karnataka leading to drop in prices at wholesale level. But you guessed it -Consumers continue to pay high prices:


Reviving the litchi fruit before it becomes a symbol of inequality

May 20, 2015

It was just shocking to hear prices of litchis costing Rs 250 per kg in Bangalore.  The prices of fruits have increased significantly in last years. So much so, one wonders whether mango people will be able to consume mangoes and other fruits in future? Or fruit consumption like Picassos, will be seen as a sign of inequality in future?

Surinder Sud has an article on improving litchi fruit’s domestic trade and enhance India’s share in the global litchi market. Leave global markets, first make it accessible and affordable for domestic consumers:

is one of those fruits that don’t get as much attention as they should. It has substantial export potential, much of which remains untapped. Its domestic marketing, too, is riddled with formidable problems – primarily because of its transient shelf life – which are detrimental to both the producers and consumers.

India enjoys some inherent advantages over other major litchi exporting countries in terms of geographic location and the timing of the fruit availability. Besides, the country also grows some good quality litchis with distinct flavour and high pulp-to-stone ratio, which are preferred in foreign markets. Indian litchis are harvested between mid-April and June-end when good quality stuff is not available from any other litchi exporting country, barring Thailand. It doesn’t, therefore, have to compete with countries such as Madagascar, South Africa and Australia, where the litchi crop is marketed between November and February. Nor does it need to vie with Israel, where litchi is harvested from July to October. This leaves the vast litchi markets in the Gulf and Europe for India to exploit, especially during the summer.

However, a lot of constraints need to be overcome to enhance India’s share in the as also to improve its domestic trade. Thanks to its highly perishable nature, litchi needs specialised handling and transportation to ensure its prompt marketing and consumption. The paucity of infrastructure of roads, cold stores, reefer vans and other components of the cold chain management is one of the biggest hurdles in the smooth internal and external trade of litchi. Experts from the Muzaffarpur (Bihar)-based (NRCL) feel that these problems need immediate attention. There is also a need for pack-houses at or near airports for the proper pre-shipment treatment of export consignments. The other limiting factors include poor pre- and post-harvest fruit handling at the field level and the unavailability of reliable market intelligence to the producers.

Commercial production of litchi has traditionally been confined to areas such as Bihar, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Jharkhand. alone, in fact, accounts for nearly half of the country’s total litchi output. In recent years, litchi cultivation has begun to spread to non-traditional litchi growing areas such as Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Odisha. Moreover, some of these states have recorded higher crop productivity than that in the conventional litchi belt. The average per hectare output of litchi in Punjab in 2012-13, for instance, was estimated at over 15 tonnes, which was almost double of the output in Bihar. Besides, litchi grown in the Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur areas of Punjab can be exported from the international airport in Amritsar.

Standard stuff on agriculture likely to standard ignorance. Agri in India should be promoted as aggressively as Make in India..

How Indian family diets have changed over the years..

May 15, 2015

Nice article by Vignesh Radhakrishnan of Hindustan Times.

He looks at how Indians diet patterns have changed since 1960s:

In the last 50 years, India’s population has surged, its food policies have been revised multiple times and the influence of western products on our eating habits has increased significantly, but the primary diet of Indian families has remained mostly vegetarian.

While our calorie intake has increased over the years and the sources of our vegetarian foods have changed, the percentage of meat consumption has not gone up comparatively. According to National Geographic, next to Rwanda and Ethiopia, Indians have consumed less meat per person than any other country.

According to United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, any diet can be divided into the following 6 groups – grain (rice, wheat, maize, other cereals), dairy and eggs (eggs, milk, animal fats), plant produce (vegetables, fruits, starchy roots), meat (beef, pork, poultry, seafood, other meat), sugar and fat (sugar and sweeteners, vegetable oils, oil crops, sugar crops), others (pulses, alcoholic beverages).

Let us look at how the diet of Indian families changed in the last 5 decades. In 1961, an average Indian family member consumed 2,010 calories in a day. It grew to 2,458 calories in 2011. According to the graphic, while our grain intake reduced from 63% to 57% (6 percentage points decrease) of the total intake in the past 5 decades, consumption of dairy, eggs and plant produce doubled. Our sugar and fat intake also increased by 3 percentage points.  However, our meat consumption remained the same – 1% of the total intake – in these 50 years.

It goes to show that as our economy gathered momentum, a part of our population started spending more on these products and spent less on grains.

Let us now compare India’s data with the world average.  In 1961, an average world family member consumed 2,184 calories in a day which grew to 2,874 calories in 2011. Though grain intake reduced by 4 percentage points and plant produce and dairy and eggs intake went down by 1 percentage point each, sugar and fat consumption went up by 4 percentage points. As per the graphic, the world meat intake increased from 6% in 1961 to 9% in 2011 – an increase of 3 percentage points.

Thus, as the economy grew in the past 50 years, families around the world reduced their consumption of grain, dairy, eggs, plant produce and started spending more on meat, sugar and fat intake.

At the same time, Indian families reduced only their grain intake and started spending more on dairy, eggs, plant produce, sugar and fats. And there was no change in our meat intake.

It has useful graphics to look at the changes as well..

Hey French people, send your crops here..

November 10, 2014

Atlantic has this news over how French farmers became angry and destroyed so much crop. Reason falling prices of their crops:


The decline of honeybees and its impact on agriculture..

September 10, 2014

Nice post by Julian Lee of WB. That too on a topic which we hardly discuss and think about.

He says how decline of honeybee population is leading to decline in agri prospects:


Ricardo on Orissa-West Bengal potato/vegetable trade..

August 27, 2014

India and its politics is interesting and bizarre at most times.

I am not sure how many of us are following the Orisaa/West Bengal crisis on trading of potatoes and vegetables.

Apparently. Orissa supplies veggies to WB and latter supplies potatoes to Orisaa. Just like Ricardo’s example, it seems WB has comparative adv over potatoes and Orissa over veggies. The two states specialise in their comp adv and trade with each other. Win win for both as our text-books suggest.

Alas, the reality is not as simple. There are lot of other considerations which influence trade and it is not just economics.


Gujarat’s agriculture growth – what is the real story?

April 24, 2014

Came across this piece in ToI by Prof. Ashok Gulati, the eminent agriculture economist. I wish more agri econs wrote for media as there is much to know and learn. Instead of the usual macro jumbo-mumbo the media guys should actively seek scholars who do research on real issues.

Anyways, Prof. Gulati says if there is anything to learn from Gujarat’s story, it is agri performance. More than Gujarat, the blogger is interested in the agri story:


Why don’t Indian farmers grow more fruits and vegetables?

January 31, 2013

A brilliant post by Dr. Richa Govil of Ashoka India on IFMR’s BLog.

She asks why farmers don’t grow fruits and veggies over cereals?


Anatomy of coping: evidence from people living through the crises of 2008-11

June 15, 2012

A nice paper on the topic.


National Food Security Bill: A discussion

December 28, 2011

This is the title of my new paper. It look at the economics of the bill and the debates so far.

Comments/suggestions are always welcome..

Agricultural Productivity and Credit- Issues and Way Forward

September 13, 2011

Nice speech on the topic by Dr. K. C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India.

Issues of low agri productivity have been known for a long time. This one just helps know more and has some nice tables and graphs. Summary:

I feel that instead of lamenting that productivity has been low, we must look at the past to the Green Revolution in the 1960s to draw confidence that productivity can be improved. We need to find ways to surmount the existing constraints and step up productivity using finance as a tool. The Green Revolution paved the way for food security in India. No major technological breakthrough has emerged since then, and with the need for higher production growing, a second green revolution is inevitable. In fact, to borrow a term coined by Prof Swaminathan, we need an evergreen revolution. However, to cater to the food security and food safety net, India needs a higher production along with enhanced productivity in cereals, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, poultry, meat, fish and milk.


Reasons for Food Insecurity: Malthus or Domestic Policy?

August 2, 2011

This is a superb note from Cullen Hendrix of College of William & Mary.

There are two major reasons cited for food insecurity:

  • Revisiting Malthusian ideas: food insecurity is because of high population growth and limited resources.
  • Food sovereignty: The problem is international food markets. Countries should focus on national food sufficiency and not really bother about international trading.

He says both views are overblown:

This brief assesses the claims of these two groups. The focus should be to build international food markets:


3 I’s of agriculture growth – Investments, institutions, incentives

March 17, 2011

Ashok Gulati who was earlier at IFPRI is one of the eminent agriculture economists and thinkers on the subject. He has just been made chief of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, a position which could have been given earlier. May be we could have more reforms and action on agriculture front.

He gives a superb interview in Financial Express:

How do we deal with the agriculture crisis?


Questions and answers on rising food prices

February 18, 2011

Valerie Guarnieri, WFP’s head of Programme answers 10 questions on rising food prices.

Hassan Zaman, Lead Economist of the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, also does a Q&A on the food prices crisis.

National Food Security Bill – a critique from EAC

January 18, 2011

PM’s Economic Advisory Council was asked to review the proposed National Food Security Bill. Here is the Final Report and here are the Highlights of the report. It was released last week but I completed it only now.

NFSB has been proposed to address the huge health deficiency in the country.


Why food inflation is likely to remain persistent in India?

January 11, 2011

This is the title of my new paper on the topic. Comments/Suggestions are invited.

Govt. raises wages under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA

January 7, 2011

Ministry of Rural Development increased the wages under its NREGA program by 17-30%. The idea is to link wages to the ever rising inflation:


Economics of foodgrain management in India

October 11, 2010

Kaushik Basu, Chief Economic Adviser at India’s Ministry of Finance has written a super paper on the topic. In sum, there is a need to think about the food management problem in a holistic manner.


Krugman and Mankiw on Greece, OCA, US History etc

May 8, 2010

Paul Krugman writes a superb article on why Europe lacks some key features of optimal currency area:


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