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    Rural entrepreneur Keshava A. runs a factory in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada that employs 50 people.

    Rural entrepreneur Keshava A. runs a factory in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada that employs 50 people.

    Keshava, who is visually challenged, has sold one lakh ladders

    Keshava A., 41, is popular as ‘ladder man’ in rural areas of Dakshina Kannada district. Lightweight foldable aluminium ladders designed by him help even women and children climb the tall areca palms or harvest pepper from climbers on tall trees. Not many know that he is visually challenged.

    Mr. Keshava was the star attraction for scientists from different parts of the country at the ongoing Agricultural Science Congress here, where he has set up a stall.

    “I dropped out of college while doing PU as my vision was affected owing to glaucoma. Now, 90 per cent of my vision is affected and I cannot see anything clearly even if it is very near to me,” said Mr. Keshava.

    Pursuing his dream

    The vision problem, however, did not come in his way of pursuing his dream of helping farmers climb tall areca palms. “As a person from the farming family, I was witness to the problems of farmers because of lack of skilled labourers who can climb areca trees. Hence I designed a lightweight ladder which can not only stretch for 40 to 50 feet, but also have a firm grip on the ground,” he said. He has so far sold over one lakh ladders.

    About his vision problem, he said, “When I started my enterprise, I was able to see the objects if they were very close to me, but my vision deteriorated in the course of time. It is not an obstacle as I have continued to innovate and also improvised the ladder models.”

    He has a full-fledged factory in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada which manufactures a range of farm equipment, including ladders, mango/coconut harvesters, sprayer extensions, and arecanut huskers. He has employed 50 people and registers a turnover of about ₹3 crore a year. “According to me, disability is actually a psychological issue and not a physical barrier,” said Mr. Keshava. He is now trying to motivate his 10-year-old son who too is affected by vision problem.

    The head of the Agricultural Engineering Department of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, said, “He is the real hero as he has been successfully operating his enterprise despite being visually challenged.”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by B S Satish Kumar / February 23rd, 2017

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    February 13th, 2017adminAgriculture, Business & Economy, World Opinion
    Bengaluru contributes about 60% of the red rose exports from India, according to industry sources.

    Bengaluru contributes about 60% of the red rose exports from India, according to industry sources.

    Exports of the red rose variety expected to touch five million ahead of Valentine’s Day

    Bengaluru’s ‘Taj Mahal’ will again be part of this Valentine’s Day flavour across the globe as nearly five million of this red rose variety, grown in fields in and around the city, is being shipped from here.

    While Bengaluru growers exported just over 4.5 million roses in the fortnight before the Valentine’s Day last year, the exports could touch about 5 million this year, general manager of International Flower Auction Board, Bengaluru, Vijay Kulkarni, told The Hindu.

    “We are expecting about 8% increase in exports this year,” he added.

    This year, the ‘Taj Mahal’ variety has been produced much more than the earlier popular variety ‘First Red’, sources said.

    Bengaluru and Pune are the largest exporters of red roses from India during Valentine’s Day, and Bengaluru contributes about 60% of the exports, industry sources said. Roses from here are being airlifted to Malayasia, Singapore, West Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries.

    While the average price for a rose stem hovers between ₹5 and ₹6 during normal days, it is expected to double over the next couple of days.

    Bridging the shortfall

    “Taj Mahal has larger bud and longer shelf life than other red rose varieties cultivated here. In fact, this year Taj Mahal will be accounting for about 95% of the exports while the First Red variety will account for a small portion,” said general secretary of the South India Floriculture Association Jayaprakash Rao. He said Kenya and Ethiopia are the largest suppliers of roses, and the Indian roses only bridge the shortfall, which explains a modest year-on-year growth in exports.

    The IFAB, which is the largest flower auction house in the country, handling about 1.5 lakh roses daily, has been handling nearly 5 lakh roses every day during this season that is expected to last till February 11.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Special Correspondent / Bengaluru – February 11th, 2017

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    Ayyappa Masagi has turned almost 26,000 hectares of dryland into wetland, rejuvenated thousands of ponds, lakes and borewells, and successfully executed rainwater harvesting projects for nearly 170 industries in and around Bengaluru. A look by M.A. Siraj

    “India gets enough rains to fulfill its needs — domestic, agricultural, industrial, commercial — provided water conservation efforts are taken on a war footing. Even with the utmost efficiency, we can conserve only 40% of water the rains brings to us annually. Another 50% will inevitably run off into the water bodies to enable navigation, fishing, boating, religious rituals and all other activities conceivable with water.”

    The statement inspires hope, given the reports of water scarcity from diverse areas. This comes from Ayyappa Masagi, who has come to be known as ‘Water Gandhi’ in villages skirting the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border. Masagi, an engineer by training, has turned almost 26,000 hectares of dryland into wetland, rejuvenated thousands of ponds, lakes and borewells and successfully executed rainwater harvesting projects for nearly 170 industries in and around Bengaluru.

    For nearly 15 years, Masagi has been leading a crusade aimed at making India a ‘water-efficient nation’. According to him, if all the rainwater that pours over Bengaluru (i.e., 827 sq. km. BBMP area with 100 cm annual rainfall) could be collected for a year, it could be sufficient for meeting the needs of the city and its people for three years. “Suppose we raise a boundary wall over the entire municipal area and allow no water to run off or percolate, the water level would go up to one metre in the obtaining large well,” he visualises.

    An unassuming man, Masagi says India is currently categorised under ‘water stressed’ countries with several areas being perpetually drought-prone. But the country has enough potential to emerge as a water-rich nation. “Currently 2 to 3% of rainwater percolates into the ground nationally. If we can harvest around 35% of the annual precipitation and reuse or recycle grey water from homes, we need not look for grandiose river-linking projects or billion-dollar irrigation schemes,” he claims.

    Water sufficiency

    Charity begins at home. And Masagi who worked for Larsen & Toubro for 26 years (he took VRS to realise his dream of making people ‘water-literate’), applied his ideas on his own 23 x 33 ft. house in Sahakarnagar in Amrutahalli suburbs of the city. The three-storeyed building that currently accommodates five families, survives on just a 68-feet borewell since 1986 when the house was constructed. Besides the borewell and harvested rainwater, he recycles grey water.

    Recharging

    Masagi’s techniques involve collecting, pre-filtering and filtering rainwater underground to recharge the subsoil natural springs. He first supervises the land and constructs ponds and filtration wells in keeping with the gradient. The ponds are laid with stones, gravel and sand and if necessary polypropylene sheet underneath to stop percolation. In order to minimise waste, he advises drip irrigation through a maze of tubes that take the water to the roots of the plants. He dug 32 soak pits (10ft. x 10ft. x 10ft.) and constructed 11 infiltration wells in his four-acre farm in Holavanahalli (in Koratagere taluk) in Tumakuru district, 82 km north of Bengaluru. This arrangement allows him to conserve enough water to draw 80,000 litres of the precious liquid everyday throughout the year whereby nearly 7,000 trees are irrigated through drip network and sprinklers.

    Masagi has honed his skills through practice and has perfected numbers. According to him 4,000 litres of water if collected over an acre (i.e., around 44,000 sq. ft. area) will fill it ankle-deep (i.e., 4 inches deep). So all that water he draws in a day can fill up a nearly two-acre farm with ankle-deep water.

    Island of greenery

    Move over 80 km east to another farm in Subbrayapet village in Hindupur taluk across the border from Karnataka. Masagi’s water conservation techniques have turned an 85-acre farm in the perennially drought-prone area into an island of greenery amid vast stretches of dry farms. The annual precipitation in the area which is part of Rayalaseema, is just around 35 cm. But four ponds and 10,000 pits dug by Masagi harvest nearly 18 to 20 crore litres of water annually. Masagi and his group of friends bought this land in 2014 which is located 40 km from Hindupur town. They are now raising 25,000 saplings into trees, of which 60% fall into the category of forestry (i.e., mahogany, Arjuna terminalia, rosewood, jamun etc) while the remaining are orchard trees. Looking at the massive effort at greening the drought-prone land, the Andhra Pradesh Government has offered him two solar-operated pumps of 5 horsepower. Besides the trees, the farm is being used for animal husbandry with dozens of cattle heads and sheep being reared on it. The ten labourers who work on the farm use a gobar gas plant for their cooking needs.

    Own expertise

    Ayyappa Masagi’s family hails from Nagaral village in Gadag district. He recalls his childhood days when his mother would rise at 3 a.m. to fetch a few pails of water from a well three km away. Raised in dire poverty, Masagi would see the roots of problem in lack of access to sustainable supplies of water and slowly grew aware of the ways to ensure stable supplies. His first appointment was at BEML in Bengaluru after he earned a diploma in mechanical engineering. Still later while working at Larsen & Toubro, he studied the problem closely and developed his own expertise to conserve, store and recycle water.

    Water literacy

    It was in 2003 that he plunged into water conservation headlong despite his family’s opposition. He formed the NGO Water Literacy Foundation in 2005 and took up programmes for educating farmers, industries and urban households. He has conducted 7,000 programmes in 13 States in 14 years. He was helped by the Deshpande Foundation in Hubballi to develop water resources in 18 villages. In 2009, he was conferred Jamnalal Bajaj National Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development. He helped several developers (Sobha, Mangalya Suryodaya, Mahaveer Zephyr etc), IT companies (Wipro, Tata Elexi, Tyco Electronics etc), apartments and educational institutions in implementing rainwater harvesting techniques. He has been honoured with titles like ‘Indian Water Doctor’, ‘Water Gandhi’ and ‘Doctor of Barren Borewells’ by various organisations.

    Masagi says the City today requires 130 crore litres of water a day but the BWSSB supplies just about 90 crore litres. The City could harvest 34 crore litres of rainwater falling on 42 km track of the Namma Metro itself.

    (Masagi can be reached at waterliteracyfoundation@yahoo.com)

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style> Homes and Gardens / February 03rd, 2017

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    February 7th, 2017adminAgriculture, Records, All, Science & Technology

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    Mysuru :

    A five-day national workshop on tribal healers and tribal medicines organised jointly by Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), Southern Regional Centre and Anthropological Survey of India (ASI), Bogadi, Mysuru, began at IGRMS premises on Irwin Road (near Sub-urban bus stand) in the city this morning.

    Speaking after inaugurating the workshop, Head of IGRMS, Bhopal, Prof. Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri said the workshop is aimed at bringing all tribal healers on a single platform for display of rare tribal medicines and to demonstrate tribal healing practices from different States of the country. Pointing out that traditional health practices across the country is diversified with changing cultures, diverse ecological conditions, geography, climate and vegetation, Prof. Chaudhuri said that every State has its own and unique traditional health practices.

    Highlighting the role of tribals in ethno-medicinal practices, he underlined the need for appropriate documentation of medicinal plant species and unearthing the ethno-botanical knowledge among tribal communities.

    IGRMS, Mysuru Incharge Director Vijay Mohan, ex-Director P.K. Mishra, ASI, Mysuru staff Nilanjan Katuve, Social Anthropologist from Ooty Dr. Dekka Parthasarathy, Horticulture Assistant from Bhopal Dheer Singh and others were present.

    More than 60 tribal healers from Karnataka, AP, Kerala, TN, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, MP and Uttarakhand are taking part in this 5-day event which concludes on Feb.8.

    The event also features Kerala massage and stream bath. For more details call: 2448231.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / February 04th, 2017

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    Mysuru :

    M.K. Shankarguru of Madralli and M. Rachanna from Hosa Malangi, both from T. Narasipur taluk, have been selected for the prestigious ‘Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Recognition’ awarded by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Authority (PPV & FRA), New Delhi. The recognition comes as an encouragement to all the farmers involved in conservation and development of plant varieties.

    Shankarguru is recognised for developing his own paddy variety, NMS 2, which thrives under minimum management practices and is a high yielder whereas Rachanna has been conserving over 300 paddy varieties most of them being very rare indigenous varieties, with medicinal value.

    JSS Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Suttur had sent their nominations to PPV & FRA in 2014, the results of which have been announced this week. The farmers will be receiving the award from the Union Minister for Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ welfare, Radha Mohan Singh, on Dec. 21 in New Delhi. Each farmer will get a cash prize of rupees one lakh, a memento and a certificate.

    The recognition, sponsored by the ‘National Gene Fund’, is being given to farmers, farmer/ tribal communities annually by the PPV & FRA to encourage protection of indigenous land races and farmers seed sovereignty.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / Dec 14th, 2016

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    Mysuru :

    City-based Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) has come to the rescue of tomato growers who often face rock-bottom price for the produce.

    Under its rural development programme, DFRL with the help of Spoorthy Janaabhivruddi Samsthe, an NGO, conducted a one-day awareness programme for farmers at Ahalya village on Dec. 11 (Sunday) on tomato processing and various products made out of tomatoes developed by the laboratory.

    Scientists and technical staff of DFRL demonstrated various technologies which have been developed for tomato utilisation to reduce the post harvest losses. The technologies have been developed with special focus on progressive farmers, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and rural enterprises. All these technologies are farm-amenable and have been developed keeping in view the traditional Indian palate. The products are good for consumption from 6 months to 9 months when stored at ideal temperature. The products, in ready-to-serve (RTS) or ready-to-prepare (RTP) form requires less preparation before being serving.

    A number of tomato-based value-added products, namely tomato RTS beverage, tomato sambar paste, tomato rasam paste, tomato curry paste, tomato sauce, tomato pulp, green tomato chutney, red tomato chutney, tomato powder and intermediate moisture tomato slices were displayed to the farmers.

    DFRL is ready to share the technology with the NGOs which plan to help the farmers to set up the tomato processing units as it believes that such units would help in value realisation for the farmers. The project will also be funded by NABARD.

    Earlier, the workshop was inaugurated by DFRL Director Dr. Rakesha Kumar Sharma. Janaabhivruddi Samsthe CEO Deepak, NABARD AGM Arvamudhan, Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), Bengaluru, Chairman Yashasvi Naag, DFRL Scientists Dr. N. Gopalan, Dr. O.P. Chauhan, Tanushree, C. Nanjappa, DFRL PRO Dr. Mallesha, Members of Ahalya Village Panchayat and others were present.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / December 14th, 2016

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    December 18th, 2016adminAgriculture, Records, All
    Anand Bagalkot, a farmer in Somadevarahatti village, is expecting a bumper crop as he has cultivated the BSMR-736 variety of toor.

    Anand Bagalkot, a farmer in Somadevarahatti village, is expecting a bumper crop as he has cultivated the BSMR-736 variety of toor.

    While many toor farmers have to watch their standing crop wither owing to deficit rain, the sight at the farm of Anand Bagalkot is the envy of other farmers.

    On the five-acre farm in Somadevarahatti village, the lush green crop which stands over five-feet tall is a stark contrast to most of the crop in the district.

    The main reason is that Mr. Bagalkot has used the new variety of toor seed, BSMR-736, which is believed to be the best for irrigated land.

    It has been developed by University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad.

    Speaking to The Hindu, Manjunath, Joint Director of the Agriculture Department, said that unlike the traditional variety, which gives a maximum yield of five quintals per acre, the ‘736’ variety could give a yield of nearly 20 quintals per acre if maintained properly.

    “However, the crop takes about 210 days to grow while the traditional crop takes only 130 days. Though the farmers will have to spent couple of more months to get the crop, yet the benefits of waiting is high,” he said.

    He said that another advantage of the improved variety is that since the first three months is only the vegetative period, the farmers could use the time for inter-cropping to sow groundnut or green gram which would give additional revenue.

    He said that the cost of cultivating the traditional crop is around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12,000 per acre. The ‘736’ variety will cost the farmer around Rs. 18,000 per acre.

    “After that, the farmer could earn around Rs. 80,000 per acre while the traditional variety will fetch the farmer only Rs. 30,000 per acre,” he said. He said the variety is good for places such as Bidar which receives around 800 mm rain per year, but in places such as Vijayapura, the farmers should have irrigation facility as the district does not receive this quantum of rain.

    The official said that since pulses do not damage the soil fertility commercial crop such as sugarcane, the traditional sugarcane farmers could switch over to this variety of toor for higher yield.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Firoz Rozindar / Vijayapura – December 17th, 2016

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    December 13th, 2016adminAgriculture, Records, All, Science & Technology

    Bengaluru :

    For any hardcore Harry Potter fan, the Sorting Hat, and the medieval wizard Godric Gryffindor is basic knowledge. Three entomologists, who stumbled upon a new species of spider have decided to pay tribute to the character by naming it after him. Though the arachnid bears resemblance to the ‘Sorting Hat’ of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it would be hard to spot it if you are trekking in the Western Ghats.

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    Eriovixia gryffindori, is the new spider species discovered, details of which was published in the recent edition of Indian Journal of Arachnology.
    The discovery of the arachnid was made at ‘Kans’ forestland of Central Western Ghats at Hosanagara taluk of Shivamogga district, by Javed Ahmed, Rajashree Khalap and Sumukha J N. While Javed and Rajashree hail from Mumbai, Sumukha is from Shivamogga.

    Describing the etymology of the spider, the scientists write that naming it after Gryffindor – after whom one of the four houses in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is named and who once owned the Sorting Hat – was, “An ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives.”
    Prior to it, they express their fondness of J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series as a ‘wordsmith extraordinaire’.
    “This uniquely shaped spider derives its name from the fabulous, sentient magical artifact, the sorting hat, owned by the (fictitious) medieval wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and stemming from the powerful imagination of Ms. J K Rowling….” they wrote.

    While the team found a female specimen of the Gryffindor spider, they are yet to describe the holotype of a typical male of the species. The paper notes that the particular species of spider is known to be distributed only from Shivamogga district, as of now.
    The spider mimics dry foliage, making it ideal for it to reside almost undetected on the forest floor.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by Express News Service / December 13th, 2016

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    Mangaluru :

    Where there’s a will there’s a way. Odduru Farm at Ganji Mutt in Bantwal Taluk, located nearly 25 km away from Mangaluru, is a classic example of this.

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    A once barren land where one could only find laterite rocks is now home to lush greenery, all thanks to the sheer determination and perseverance of a progressive farmer Ulepadyguttu Rajesh Naik. When Bantwal taluk was declared a grey area owing to deficient water, Naik decided to do the unthinkable and turned his 120-acre arid land lush green through organic farming.

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    A BSc graduate, Naik (58) had never hankered after a routine job. He had his interests deep-rooted in agriculture. His family had a large patch of land, but it was never cultivated as it was situated on a plate of laterite stone. The barren land and lack of water, however, failed to dry out his enthusiasm. He used the laterite plate for cutting out stones for construction, and soon water started oozing from the bottom of the plate. A water tank was thus formed. He has two such large tanks today that never go dry.
    The bigger challenge was to transform the barren land into thriving farm land, which took Rajesh to several places in search of models. But none impressed him. Finally, in 1986, he decided to go with his own model of a fully developed organic farm on a dry patch of 120 acres. “It has not been an easy journey. Organic fertilisers enrich soil slowly, but my patience and perseverance paid off finally,” says Rajesh.

    On his 120 acres of land, he now grows arecanut, coconut, banana, cashew, different types of vegetables, pepper and fruits among others by using organic manure. The farm has as many as 10,000 arecanut and 1,500 coconut trees. Two artificial lakes, 50-ft deep at the centre, provide water to the entire land. His land has yielded great results and products.

    Over 650 litres of milk are also produced at his farmland. The bio-gas slurry produced by over 180 cows, is used for plantation of coconut, arecanut, vegetable plants among others. He also generates electricity from bio-gas, which almost meets his requirement of power. Naik’s multi-farming activities can provide an idea or two to those, who always complain against less income by agriculture.

    “Small land holders must always opt for multi-crop plantation. Loss is inevitable in case of single-crop farming in times of erratic monsoons. With technological advancement and organic solutions, it is not difficult to earn profits,” said Naik.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Karnataka / by Ganesh Mavanji / Express News Service / November 27th, 2016