Ashok Gulati (for Info only, not official)

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Ashok Gulati

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    ...Signals indicating future prices are largely absent as agri-futures have been decimated by excessive controls and regulation. It is time to think afresh and resurrect agri-futures in India. In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s decisions to allow futures markets in India — after a long gap — was hailed as a big and bold step towards better price discovery for farmers. This, in turn, was supposed to help farmers take informed planting decisions. In the initial years — 2003-2007 — agri-futures did show promising growth. But around 2007-2008, they were hit by the global food price crisis. Agri-futures picked up momentum again and peaked in 2011-2012. ...

    Indian Express on Dec. 5, 2017, 12:30 a.m.

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    ... Onions are, once again, in the news. Last week, retail prices touched Rs 50/kg in several markets, and wholesale prices touched Rs 30/kg in major onion markets like Lasalgaon in Maharashtra. This is not the first time that onion prices have spiked. Almost every alternate year, this roller-coaster of boom and bust in onion prices happens (see Graph). But 2017 is interesting as it saw record low prices in May-June when farmers sold onions at around Rs 2/kg in several mandis in Madhya Pradesh. This has led to grief and anger among farmers. The situation became precarious when farmers protested and police fired at them, resulting in some unfortunate deaths. The MP chief minister realised the sensitivity of the incident and quickly announced a decision to procure onions at Rs 800/quintal and state agencies procured 8.76 lakh tonnes. ...

    Indian Express on Nov. 20, 2017, 12:35 a.m.

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    ...The new Commerce and Industry Minister, Suresh Prabhu, has expressed his resolve to expand exports. He has said that increase in agri-exports will not only increase the country’s export basket, but also augment farmers’ incomes and ameliorate farm distress. His objective is laudable and achievable, provided there is a paradigm shift in policy-making from being obsessively consumer-oriented to according greater priority to farmers’ interests. But before elaborating on this, let us compare the trends in agri-trade, both exports and imports, in the period when the UPA was in office (2004-05 to 2013-14) with that of the three-years of the current regime (2013-14 to 2016-17). A close look at these trends and their drivers can help Prabhu and his team identify agri-commodities that can help boost the agri-trade surplus. In general, both agri-exports and imports have increased substantially since 2004-05. Agri-trade increased from $14 billion to $59.2 billion between 2004-05 and 2016-17 (Figure 1). ...

    Indian Express on Nov. 6, 2017, 12:17 a.m.

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    ... Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his desire to make India a hub of innovations at several fora, be it in his address to young CEOs or in his speech during his recent visit to Israel. In his words: “Innovation is life. When there is no innovation, there is stagnation”. In his budget speech in 2015, the finance minister announced the setting up of the Atal Innovation Mission. But the progress in this respect has been tardy. This is not the first time that India has aspired to be an innovation hub. The importance of innovation was also recognised by the UPA government, which constituted the National Innovation Council (NIC) in 2010 under Sam Pitroda, then adviser to the prime minister on innovations. ...

    Indian Express on Oct. 23, 2017, 12:40 a.m.

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    ... We have been great admirers of Gujarat’s “agrarian miracle” when Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister from October 7, 2001 to May 22, 2014. Gujarat’s agri-GDP registered an unprecedented growth of 8 per cent per annum during 2002-03 to 2013-14, way more than the all-India figure of 3.3 per cent per annum (Graph 1). Gujarat’s agri-growth was even higher than that achieved by Punjab during the Green Revolution’s heydays (5.7 per cent per annum during 1971-85). This gave Modi a big political dividend and he was returned to the CM’s office thrice. It was good economics and good politics. So, when Modi became the prime minister in May 2014, one was expecting that the “Gujarat model” would be extended to many states — of course with the fine-tuning to suit each state’s requirements. ...

    Indian Express on Oct. 9, 2017, 12:25 a.m.

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    ... Last month, the NITI Aayog released the Three Year Action Agenda (TYAA) for the government, a roadmap for reforming the various sectors of the economy. Here we look at its agenda for the agriculture sector, and how best it can rescue the sector whose growth has plunged to just 1.8 per cent annually in the first three years of the NDA government. In doing so, we also touch upon the recommendations of some important committees constituted by the current government in the realm of agri-food. ...

    Indian Express on Sept. 25, 2017, midnight

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    ...Pulses are an interesting and unique commodity group in the Indian agri-food space. The country ranks first not only in their production and consumption, but also their import. Domestic absorption in recent years (2012-13 to 2015-16) has hovered between 21 million metric tonnes (MMT) and 23 MMT, while domestic production has ranged from 16.4 MMT to 19.3 MMT. But last year (FY 2016-17) was an anomaly that has confounded many a keen observer of this sector. In 2016-17, India witnessed its highest ever domestic production of pulses — a staggering 22.95 MMT. ...

    Indian Express on Sept. 11, 2017, 12:04 a.m.

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    ...In his Independence Day speech, the prime minister referred to farmers 12 times. He talked about several achievements in agriculture — providing soil health cards to nine crore farmers and the enhanced crop insurance scheme. He also mentioned that 99 projects under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana will be completed by 2019, FDI in food processing will be encouraged, supply of inputs to farmers will be ensured and they will be assisted in marketing their produce. The PM concluded by saying, “Together we will build such an India where the farmers can sleep without worry. In 2022, they will earn double of what they earn today”. The first time the PM had shared his dream of doubling farmers’ income (DFI) was at a kisan rally in Bareilly on February 28, 2016. A day later, the finance minister talked about this goal in his budget speech. ...

    Indian Express on Aug. 28, 2017, midnight