Currents Affairs & GK – Jul 17, 2017

General Studies-II
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
Soil Health Card Scheme

It is a scheme launched by the Government of India in February 2015. Under the scheme, the government issues soil cards to farmers which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilisers required for the individual farms to help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs. All soil samples are to be tested in various soil testing labs across the country. Thereafter the experts will analyse the strength and weaknesses (micro-nutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest measures to deal with it. The result and suggestion will be displayed in the cards. The government plans to issue the cards to 14 crore farmers.

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana is an elaborated component of Soil Health Management (SHM) of major project National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). The Scheme envisages–

  • Promotion of commercial organic production through certified organic farming.
  • The produce will be pesticide residue free and will contribute to improve the health of consumer.
  • To raise farmer’s income and create potential market for traders.
  • To motivate the farmers for natural resource mobilization for input production.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ (‘Water for every field’) and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner with end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.

PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz.

  • Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR);
  • Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR); and
  • On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

The primary objectives of PMKSY are to attract investments in irrigation system at field level, develop and expand cultivable land in the country, enhance ranch water use in order to minimize wastage of water, enhance crop per drop by implementing water-saving technologies and precision irrigation.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

PMFBY is a new Crop Insurance Scheme. It replaced the previously existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) as well as the Modified NAIS. The objectives of the scheme are:

  • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
  • To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.

89th foundation day of ICAR celebrated

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare , Government of India. Formerly known as Imperial Council of Agricultural Research, it was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in pursuance of the report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture. The ICAR has its headquarters at New Delhi.

The Council is the apex body for co-ordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country. With 101 ICAR institutes and 71 agricultural universities spread across the country this is one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world.

The ICAR has played a pioneering role in ushering Green Revolution and subsequent developments in agriculture in India through its research and technology development that has enabled the country to increase the production of foodgrains by 5 times, horticultural crops by 9.5 times, fish by 12.5 times, milk 7.8 times and eggs 39 times since 1951 to 2014, thus making a visible impact on the national food and nutritional security. It has played a major role in promoting excellence in higher education in agriculture. It is engaged in cutting edge areas of science and technology development and its scientists are internationally acknowledged in their fields.

General Studies-III
Bio diversity
Bengal’s medicinal plants face threat

The West Bengal Forest Department on Friday came out with a unique publication that provides details on 581 species of medicinal plants found across different regions of south Bengal.

The plants are being conserved in situ, that is, where the plants are naturally found, at four medicinal plant conservation areas (MPCA) across south Bengal. Collections from two ex-situ (conserving in an area where the plants were not originally found) conservation sites have also been included in the book titled ‘Medicinal Plant Resources of South Bengal’.

Out of 20,000 medicinal plants listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), India’s contribution is about 5,000 species.

Increasing use of medicinal plants as raw materials by different pharma companies has pushed many of these species to the brink of extinction.

A large number of plants compiled in the book are from the Amlachati Medicinal Plant Garden, which boasts of the largest collection of medicinal plants in the country.

Asparagus officinalis is used for the treatment of jaundice and rheumatism
Asparagus racemosus is not only used to treat human ailments but also that of cattle
The roots of Gloriosa superba have certain anti-carcinogenic and anti-malarial properties, and is widely sought after by pharma companies.
The bark of the medium-sized evergreen tree Saraca asoca (commonly called Asok tree), which is a threatened tree species classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, is used in the treatment of a number of ailments, including heart disease.
Cassia fistula (amaltus) fruit has medicinal properties for treating skin diseases in humans.

Science and Technology- developments and their applications
Super-flexible and strong artificial silk developed

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have developed super-stretchy and strong artificial silk, composed almost entirely of water, which may be used to make eco-friendly textiles and sensors.

The fibres, which resemble miniature bungee cords as they can absorb large amounts of energy, are sustainable, non-toxic and can be made at room temperature. The fibres are spun from a soupy material called a hydrogel, which is 98% water. The remaining 2% of the hydrogel is made of silica and cellulose, both naturally available materials, held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular structures known as cucurbiturils.

The extremely thin threads are a few millionths of a metre in diameter. After the hydrogel is stretched for roughly 30 seconds, the water evaporates, leaving a strong fibre. They can support stresses in the range of 100 to 150 megapascals, which is similar to other synthetic and natural silks. The fibres are capable of self-assembly at room temperature, and are held together by supramolecular host, where atoms share electrons.

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