What is yellow rust?

GS Paper III

Topic: Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management.

Prelims: HD-3226 or Pusa Yashasvi

What’s the News?

The detection of yellow rust disease in the wheat crop in sub-mountainous parts of Punjab and Haryana has raised anxiety among farmers about drop in the crop’s yield.

Yellow rust:

  • It is a fungal disease which manifests as powdery yellow stripes on leaves.
  • These stripes hinder photosynthesis, make the grains shrivel and stunt growth of the plant.
  • It is a serious disease, which has been threatening wheat cultivation in the country the past few years.
  • All the wheat growing states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, the tarai region of Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh and the low lying areas of Jammu and Kashmir are susceptible to the disease.

                             

Reasons behind the spread:

  • The disease spreads with the wind and started appearing in the present race in 2001 because farmers in wheat growing states were not replacing their wheat varieties.
  • Rain, dew and fog favour the disease’s development.
  • Wheat varieties grown in larger areas are prone to the disease, which is why it is recommended that seeds of wheat varieties should be replaced every three years.
  • Farmers grow wheat varieties that are not recommended for their regions; as a result they either become susceptible or act as transporting agents.

Effects on yield:

  • As per Bayer Crop Science, yield due to the disease can affected by between 5 and 30 per cent.
  • This occurs when the rust colonies in the leaves drain the carbohydrates from the plant and reduce the green leaf area.

Ways to contain:

  • Alerting the state governments and their agricultural universities to help farmers monitor their fields.
  • Spraying fungicide and start replacing wheat varieties that have become susceptible to the disease.

These disease prone wheat varieties include PBW343, HD2733, HD2581 and WH711.

HD-3226 or Pusa Yashasvi

  • It is a new variety of wheat called HD-3226 which was released by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, which had higher levels of resistance against major rust fungi such as the yellow/stripe, brown/leaf and black/stem.
  • According to the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) advisory, if farmers observe yellow rust in patches in their wheat fields, they should spray fungicides.

Conclusion:

  • Agriculture experts have suggested that farmers must avoid risks associated with mono-culture and advise them to grow more than one variety in their field.
  • The entire area in which a farmer plans to plant wheat should not be brought under just one variety.

 


Food inflation higher in urban areas

GS Paper III

Topic: Marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

Prelims: Tight monetary policy

Mains: Reasons behind the Divergence in rural-urban food inflation

What’s the News?

There has been a sudden change in trend of food inflation in the current financial year, for urban and rural areas, highlighting higher food inflation in urban areas. Food inflation is man-made in urban areas.

Usual case:

Urban inflation has been lower than the rural inflation in the past due to-

  • Different basket of products: For example, food has a weight of 54.18% in the CPI rural index and only 36.29% in the urban index. Also, the urban index takes into consideration housing prices that are not a part of the rural index. These variations affect the final numbers drastically.
  • Fuel prices: The Urban index concentrates on the more widely used LPG and diesel. The prices for these have fallen because of low global prices.
  • Costlier food: Food products are somewhat costlier in urban India than in rural India..
  • Structural problems: Rural India suffers from poor infrastructure. This leads to bottlenecks in responding to supply shortage in food items. Inadequate distribution channels hinder bringing imported vegetables and oilseeds to rural areas, many experts say. This is referred to as a supply side constraint. This is one area where RBI is unable to do much and the government has a bigger role.

Reasons behind the Divergence:

  • Divergence in rural-urban food inflation in 2019-20 was mainly led by cereals, eggs, fruits, vegetables etc. Prices of these items deflated in the rural segment, while the urban numbers indicated a rise.
  • Prices of important services like healthcare and education have inched up sharper for rural India.
  • Illegal hoarding and losses due to lack of proper storage and warehouse facilities
  • The decline in rural inflation in items like clothing and footwear, fuel and light could be due to fall in growth of real rural wages.
  • The lack of proper infrastructure for storage and transport to urban areas, leaving rural India with a supply glut. Two, the recent floods in many states could have also made matters worse in terms of moving goods to urban areas.

Possible Effects:

  • Low food inflation and high services inflation in rural India is doing more bad than good for the rural population.
  • Food and fuel inflation in India have had strong secondary effects which may lead to persistence in household inflation expectations.
  • Where on one hand the inflation is slower in agricultural items — on which majority of the rural population relies for their income — higher inflation in basic healthcare and education is only bringing their affordability under question.

The Report focus:

  • Swiftness with which headline inflation converged to core inflation after the occurrence of a food or fuel price shock is the test for the presence of secondary effects of food and fuel inflation
  • If headline inflation did not completely revert to core inflation within a reasonably short span of time, it may indicate the presence of strong secondary effects.
  • The reversion of headline inflation to core inflation has effect on the monetary policy –inflation targeting framework.
  • In an economy with strong secondary effects, monetary policy may have to be tighter in an event of a food or fuel price shock compared to an economy where such effects are minimal.

                       

Conclusion:

  • Rural farmers are struggling to get fair price for their produce, while urban consumers want lower price.
  • The reform of agricultural markets is a long pending policy issue in India
  • We need a holistic approach to streamline procurement and reform supply-chain and post-harvest systems.
  • Important schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which drive rural demand is on the verge of running out of funds due to increased demand for work. There is need for proper fund allocation to ensure proper implementation on the ground and drive demand.