Septuagenarian turns sand dune ‘green’ with 27,000 trees
Jodhpur, April 26, 2013: Turning a sand dune into a green garden might seem like a
difficult task, but a septuagenarian has single-handedly achieved this
and managed to plant over 27,000 trees in a village near here, earning him the sobriquet of ‘Tree
Man’. Ranaram Bishnoi of Ekalkhori village near Jodhpur climbs a high sand
dune every alternate morning and waters the trees he has planted in 25
bigha land with a large earthen pitcher. For this, he walks 3 km to reach the dune from his house, climbs it,
goes down the other side to get the water from his friend’s tubewell and mounts it back, defying his age.
This way he has planted about 27,000 indigenous trees like
Neem, Rohida, Fig, Khejri, Kankeri, Babool and Bougainvillea. “The plants are god-like
for me and by serving them I feel accomplished and relieved,” said
Ranaram. He has also developed a small crater on the dune to collect water using
a big polythene sheet and keep it covered to avoid the water from being
consumed by the cattle or getting evaporated. The elderly man walks 3 km to reach the dune, climbs it, goes down the
other side to fetch water from his friend’s tube-well and mounts it
back. He does this every alternate morning “Sometimes, I also take the women of my house along and some time I take
the girls of the village to help watering the plants spread on the large
chunk of the dune and pay them Rs2 per plant from my pocket,” says a beaming Ranaram.
Awarded by the administration and forest department, Ranaram has
achieved the feat without any government assistance, but SDM Rakesh Sharma said, “If he approaches us for any help, we will definitely
consider him.” He said “greening” a dune of this size without any
resources was “great work” and Ranaram deserved appreciation for this.
The environmentalist says he was inspired about 50 years ago when he
visited a community festival of the Bishnois at Mukam village in Bikaner
as a young boy. “There I heard the speakers emphasising on environment as the aim of
life for a Bishnoi. That day transformed me and while returning, I brought some plants from Bikaner and planted them in the vicinity of my
village,” he said. Ranaram has also developed a nursery in his house to prepare seeds and
saplings and he sprinkles the seeds every rainy season on the dune. Source: PTI
Whiff of rosemary can boost your memory: study
April 10, 2013: William Shakespeare was right! Sniffing essential oil of the herb
Rosemary can increase
your memory, according to a new study. UK researchers found that
essential oil of rosemary boosted healthy adults' ability to
remember to perform future tasks and recall past events. Rosemary
has long been linked to memory and fidelity, and was used by ancient Egyptians in weddings and funeral rituals.
English playwright and poet William Shakespeare was aware of
its properties. In his play 'Hamlet', Ophelia remarks: "There's
rosemary, that's for remembrance." In the new study, the
improvement in participants' memory was unrelated to their mood,
suggesting rosemary oil was having a chemical influence which
improved their memory, The Telegraph reported. Researchers, who will
present their findings at the British Psychological Society's annual
conference in Harrogate today, said the results could improve the
everyday lives of people with age-related memory loss.
"We wanted to build on our previous research that
indicated rosemary aroma improved long-term memory and mental
arithmetic," Dr Mark Moss, who led the study, said. "We
focused on prospective memory, which involves the ability to
remember events that will occur in the future and to remember to
complete tasks at particular times this is critical for everyday
functioning," Moss said.
Agriculture revolution takes shape silently
April 1,2013: A 35-year old farmer SumantKumar creating a world record in paddy
production in 2011-12. The farmer from Darveshpura village in Nalanda in Bihar
sweated it out and produced 224 quintals of paddy a hectare (22.4 tons)
using the system of root intensification (SRI), which is based on
principles of nurturing the roots, enriching soil and giving plants more
space to grow. Using these methods, Kumar shattered the world record of
194 quintal/ha registered by China's 'father of rice' Yuvan Longping.
China has not accepted Kumar's feat. Longping, in an interview to China
News Service, trashed the claim that his record had been beaten by saying, "It's 120% fake. He (Kumar) said they had lots of rain and
little sunshine that year, but high yields would be impossible without
adequate sunshine." Kumar said he never talked about little sunshine. "The Chinese travel to
Gaya and Rajgir which are largely barren and possibly Longping thinks
Nalanda is also barren," said Kumar, who is now Nalanda's most recognized face.
Every day, he has to meet visiting media people as well as officials
from the agriculture department, representatives of fertilizer companies and many more. "It is our
privilege to receive them in our village. Earlier, we only heard about
records in cricket. Now, we are told that records are made and broken in
farming too," said Kumar's farmer father Ramanuj Pravin, who records each new person's visit in a diary.
On the list in Pravin's diary is a team from China's CCTV news channel,
who visited late last month. They quizzed Kumar about his farming techniques and, of course, the
dispute over his record. In 2012-13, the yield came down to 135 quintal/ha and Kumar blamed
insecticides and fungal disease.
Kumar received the Krishi Karman award on January 15 with a citation and
Rs 1 lakh in cash from President Pranab Mukherjee. Kumar, who has been farming since 2007, said he experimented with SRI
in 2010 for paddy after government gave incentives and he received special training.
Indian bitter melon aka 'karela' may hold cure for cancer
Washington, DC, March 25, 2013 (ANI): An Indian origin scientist has received a
39,42-dollar grant from the Lottie Caroline Hardy Charitable Trust to continue her research on
treating cancer with an extract from bitter melon, a vegetable common in
India and known as 'karela' in Hindi. Ratna Ray, Ph.D., professor of pathology at Saint Louis
University, is studying the effect of the extract from the vegetable, which is often
used in Indian and Chinese cooking, on head and neck cancer cells. "The goal of our study is to see if a complementary alternative medicine
treatment based upon bitter melon can stop the spread of head and neck cancer," she said.
Ray studies using bitter melon extract to prevent or treat cancer by
thwarting the spread of cancer cells. In a controlled lab setting, she
previously found that bitter melon extract activated a pathway that triggered the death of breast cancer cells, stopping them from growing
and spreading. The effectiveness of using bitter melon extract to treat
breast cancer in people has not been tested. Then, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, she expanded
her research on bitter melon extract to include prostate cancer prevention.
With that research underway, Ray discussed her bitter melon research
with Dr. Mark Varvares, a SLUCare head and neck cancer specialist and
director of the Saint Louis University Cancer Center, who thought her
findings could have implications for treating head and neck cancer and warranted more study.
"We have pretty good indications that bitter melon extract works in
cancer cell lines to halt the growth. I think it might be effective to
treat solid tumors, and our grant will help us to get pre-clinical data
to show whether something that looks promising in fighting breast cancer could work in other cancers," Ray said.
For her research, she will feed bitter melon extract to mice that have
head and neck cancer to see if the substance sparks anti-tumor activity.
If bitter melon extract stops the growth of cancer cells in animals, the
findings could lay the groundwork for studying the treatment in a phase
I clinical trial of human patients who have head and neck cancer, Ray said.
Head and neck cancers, which account for 6 percent of all cancer cases,
start in the mouth, nose, sinuses, voicebox and throat. They frequently
are aggressive, and often spread from one part of the head or neck to another. Source: ANI
Medicinal plants plants for defluoridation of drinking water
March 23, 2013: Researchers in India have developed a filter system based on a medicinal
herb, which they say can quickly and easily remove fluoride from drinking water. The
technology described in the March issue of the /International Journal of
Environmental Engineering/ uses parts of the plant "Tridax procumbens" as a biocarbon filter for the ion.
Drinking water can contain natural fluoride or fluoride might be added
as a protective agent for teeth by water companies. However, its presence is not without controversy while in some natural drinking water
levels may be above those considered safe by the World Health
Organisation. Chemist Malairajan Singanan of the Presidency College (Autonomous), in Chennai, points out that the WHO guidelines suggest
that a safe level of fluoride is 1.5 milligrams per liter. He adds that
various techniques to reduce fluoride content have been tried including
coagulation, adsorption, precipitation, ion exchange, reverse osmosis,
and electrodialysis. However, metal ions with an affinity for fluoride
in a biocarbon matrix represent a promising new approach.Singanan has investigated /Tridax procumbens/, which is commonly used as
a medicinal herb in India, as a biocarbon absorbent for fluoride. Previously, the plant has been tested in the extraction of toxic heavy
metals from water. He explains that by loading up plant tissue with aluminum ions it is possible create a safe biocarbon filter that will
readily absorb fluoride ions from water warmed to around 27 Celsius passing through the filter. His trials show that it takes just three
hours to remove 98% of fluoride with just 2 grams of the biocarbon filter.
The biocarbon filter might provide an inexpensive way to defluoridate
water in regions where the natural level of this mineral is high in ground water, including India, China, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Spain,
Holland, Italy, Mexico, North and South America. It might also be adapted for those consumers who wish to reduce their exposure to
fluoride, despite its dental health benefits, in parts of the world where it is added to the water supply for public health reasons.
Source: Inderscience Publishers
Centre of Excellence on Medicinal Plants
New Delhi, March 11, 2013: The Ministry of Environment and Forests
(MoEF), Government of India, has set up aCentre of Excellence on Medicinal Plants and
Traditional Knowledge at the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions
(FRLHT), Bengaluruin September 2002. The objectives of
the Centre, which works in project mode, are as under:
i) Herbarium of Medicinal Plants and Raw Drugs Repository
ii) Pharmocognosystudies iii) Mapping of natural distribution of medicinal
plantsfor prioritization of species, habitats and zones for conservation
iv) Ethno-medicinal garden v) Biology of Medicinal Plants
vi) Training, Capacity building and Outreach.
The Ministry released Rs.296.77 lakh during the last three years i.e. 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 to the Centre and has allocated
a sum of Rs 115/- lakh for 2012-13. This was stated by Shrimati Jayanthi
Natarajan Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and
Forests, in the Lok Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by
Shri B.Y. Raghavendra, Shri Shivarama Gouda & Shri Nalin Kumar
Kateel. The Minister further stated that the Ministry of Environment
and Forests constituted an Expert Group in January 2012, to review the
performance of the Centre from 2007 to 2012. The Group found the progress of the Centre to be satisfactory and suggested the Work Plan
for the Centre for the 12^th Plan period. The Group also recommended
additional objectives and corresponding budget for the Centre, subject
to availability of funds and other necessary approvals during the
12^th Plan. The recommendations of the Group have been endorsed by the Ministry.
Source: Ministry of Environment and Forests
Crop Development Schemes Boost Foodgrain Production
New Delhi, February 25, 2013:To improve production and yield of different crops, a
number of Crop Development Schemes are being implemented through State Government in
the country like National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Integrated Scheme on
Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil palm and Maize (ISOPOM), Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC), Jute Technology Mission (JTM), Integrated
Cereals Development Programme (ICDP) for Rice/Wheat/Coarse Cereals and
Sustainable Development of Sugarcane Based Cropping Systems Areas (SUBACS) under Macro Management of Agriculture (MMA), Rashtriya Krishi
Vikas Yojana (RKVY), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI),
Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion
(INSIMP), Accelerated Fodder Development Programme (AFDP), Special Programme on Oil Palm Area Expansion (OPAE), Vegetable Clusters;
National Horticulture Mission (NHM), etc
The implementation of the Crop Development Programmes has boosted the
production primarily through increase in yield of crops. Overall total
foodgrains production in the country has increased from 217.28 million
tones in 2006-07 to 259.32 million tonnes in 2011-12 resulting in 18.39
percent increase in yield of total foodgrains (12.29% in rice, 17.31% in
wheat and 14.21% in pulses). Similarly, production of horticulture crops
has increased from 191.81 million tones in 2006-07 to 257.28 million
tonnes in 2011-12. From 2006-07 to 2011-12, the production of Oilseeds
has increased from 24.29 million tones to 29.80 million tonnes (23.68%
increase in yield), production of Cotton has increased from 22.63 to
35.20 million bales (16.63% increase in yield) and production of Jute
and Mesta from 11.27 million bales to 11.40 million bales (5.20% increase in yield) and production of Sugarcane (in terms of cane) from
355.52 to 361.04 million tones (29.55% increase in yield). This information was given in Rajya Sabha today by Minister of State for
Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Shri Tariq Anwar in a written reply.
Onions prices double in just a few days
February 03, 2013: The cost of onions has almost doubled in the past few days,
according to agriculture leaders. While the rate was about Rs 20 per kg until last week, it has gone up to
Rs 35-40 per kg now. Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) chairman in Azadpur
Rajender Sharma said supply of onions had come down sharply in the last
few days. Onions are the second-largest agricultural consumerproduct in the
country and India is the world's second-largest producer of onions after China. India is a growing exporter of onions and during April to June last
year, it exported 4,61,854 tonnes of onions. APMC officials said the government could step in to control the prices
by stopping the export of onions and begin importing it from next month.
Assembly elections are due in Delhi this year. Considering that the BJP
lost an assembly election in 1998 due to onion price hike, the recent
spike in has set off alarm bells in the Congress-led Delhi government,
which is aiming for a fourth straight victory.In 1998 prices of onion had peaked at around Rs 100 per kg, forcing the
Delhi government to ration the produce. But, the ruling BJP still lost the elections and has not returned to power since.
The markets showed a rising trend with the minimum price
of Rs1,500 per quintal, a maximum of Rs2,251 and an average price of
Rs2,150 per quintal. On Thursday, while the minimum and average prices
were stable, the good quality onion fetched the highest price of Rs2,251
per quintal. "Rates will be high till March and will reduce when the
summer crop (unhali kanda) enters the market," said Changdeorao
Holkar, director, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India.
A new future for an old crop: Barley enters the genomics age
January 23, 2013: A Japanese team led by Kazuhiro Sato of Okayama University participates
in the International Barley Sequencing Consortium (IBSC) to produce a
high resolution assembly of the majority of barley genes. he barley genome is almost twice the size of that of humans and determining the sequence of its DNA has
proved to be a major challenge. This paper published in "Nature" is a detailed overview of the functional portions of the barley genome,
revealing the order and structure of its 26,000 genes. The findings are
also described in the January 2013 issue of Okayama University e-Bulletin.
First cultivated more than 15,000 years ago, barley is the world's fourth most important cereal crop both in terms of area of cultivation
and in quantity of grain produced. This is mainly because its genome
contains a large proportion of closely related sequences, which are difficult to piece together.
By developing and applying a series of innovative strategies that
allowed them to circumvent these difficulties, IBSC describes the location of dynamic regions of the genome that carry genes conferring
resistance to diseases. This achievement also highlights the unprecedented detail in the differences
(15 million positions) between a range of different barley cultivars.The report provides a detailed overview of the functional portions of
the barley genome, revealing the order and structure of its 26,000 genes.
Access to the assembled catalogue of gene sequences will streamline efforts to
improve barley production by breeding varieties that are better able to
withstand disease and deal with adverse environmental conditions such as drought and heat stress. Source: www.physorg.com
stress on bringing tech support to agriculture sector
ALLAHABAD, January 3, 2013:
Enhancing the quality of agriculture in the country is the need of the hour as unfortunately despite the present technological
advances, peasants are forced to throw produce like potato on the roads for lack of buyers and storage facility, said Mohan Singh,
Samajwadi Party member of Rajya Sabha, speaking at the inaugural programme of the two-day international conference on 'food
processing and development of backward regions: preparing a roadmap' with special reference to Eastern UP The MP added that unless
there was positive and productive relation between intellectuals and
workers of this country, no policy or technology could sustain. He said efforts should be initiated for additional production which
could lead to positive approach towards food processing industry.
"We are number two in terms of potato production worldwide but we are dependent on western countries for its
processing. In comparison to this, Number 1 position holder in potato production China processes potato and exports it whereas
India exports unprocessed potato," said the MP. Conferences such as this, would prepare a roadmap for food
processing for not only Eastern UP but for the entire country, he added.
The MP was presented a memento by officiating V-C N R Farooqi who said in the present scenario not only has the demand for
finished processed products increased but people have fast adapted to the same as well. The international conference on food processing
and development of backward regions is being organised by the Center of Food Technology (CFT) of the Institute of Professional (IPS) of
Allahabad University in association with American Association of Food Scientists (AAFS) for the Indian subcontinent. Many important
scientists of International repute are participating in the conference, said director of the Centre G K
Rai. Source: Times of India