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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 19TH JANUARY 2020

ISSUE: NATIONAL AGRICULTURE MARKET

What is e-NAM?

E-NAM (National Agriculture Market) is an online trading platform for agriculture produce aiming to help farmers, traders, and buyers with online trading and getting a better price by smooth marketing.

It was launched by the Centre in 2015 and the government had to extend it in a phased manner across the 585 mandis of the country by December 31, 2019. Punjab was included in it in April 2018.

While the deadlines has been missed, under e-NAM all mandis have to be made live on the e-NAM portal by Centre for online transaction of agricultural commodities.

What commodities can be sold on this portal in Punjab?

The farmers growing wheat and paddy, which comes under the assured Minimum Support Price (MSP) category, would not be registered under it. In Punjab, the farmers who grow seven commodities including basmati, cotton, maize, green peas, potato, kinnow, and moong dal (pulse) are registered under e-NAM.

How can e-NAM help in diversification?

All these seven e-NAM enabled crops in Punjab have a great potential of diversifying the area from paddy (non-basmati) and wheat crops which are occupying 55 to 60 per cent and 87 per cent of the total cultivable area, respectively, in Kharif and Rabbi seasons in Punjab.

The state wants to divert at least 50 per cent area of current paddy area to other crops like maize, basmati, and cotton.

For instance, there is a huge demand of kinnow in the south and farmers can sell it a pretty good price online in the even when the prices are under stress in the local markets here, added Randhawa.

Is e-NAM working smoothly in Punjab’s mandis?

There are 154 main mandis in Punjab, and the Government of India has approved 37 markets (24 per cent of the total) out of which only 19 markets have been integrated with e-NAM portal while 18 markets for live operations are pending at the level of GOI. Currently, intra-mandi, inter-mandi trade is taking place more than inter-state.

“At the moment the e-NAM is at an early stage and it will take time for the smooth online trading,” said Randhwa. He added that logistics is also one of the major issues at central level as it would act as a backbone of the project which will improve the marketing aspect of the agriculture sector and further strengthen the supply chain of commodities and reduces wastages.

For a real turnaround, all the mandies are required to be made live and connected with each other while farmers are needed to be trained for online trading.

Meanwhile, basic equipment like moisture meters is available in mandis to assess the moisture of food grains in all the 37 e-NAM mandis. Besides this, equipment for cotton assaying is also available in all the e-NAM cotton mandis. The proposal to procure the assaying equipment for assessing the physical as well as chemical parameters of food/oil crops is under consideration.

How many farmers have registered till now under e-NAM?

There are 18.50 lakh farmers in Punjab out of which around 2,10,438 farmers (11.3 per cent) have been registered. They are being facilitated by 1,369 traders and, 5,241 arhtiyas (commission agents) registered on the e-NAM portal. However, there are around 28,000 active arhtiyas in Punjab who sell farmers’ crops.

How much crop has been sold in past two years?

So far, different agricultural commodities (11.40 lakh tonnes) worth Rs 3,282 crores have been traded on e-NAM portal.

How can e-NAM help Punjab?

Punjab also has great potential as it grows around 12-15 lakh bales of lint (one bale is of 177 KG), over 20 lakh tonnes basmati, over 10 lakh tonnes kinnow, 27 lakh tonnes potatoes and thousands of tonnes maize, peas and moong.

ISSUE: HYPER LOOP
WHY IN NEWS?
The proposed Pune-Mumbai Hyperloop project, an ultra-modern transport system that will reduce the travelling time between the two cities to 25 minutes from 2.5-3 hours, may be scrapped by the state government.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday expressed reservations about the project that was still in its experimental stage, and had not been “implemented anywhere in the world”.

What is the Hyperloop technology?

In July 2012, entrepreneur Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla, Inc and several other firms, unveiled his vision of the new transport system, which he called a ‘Hyperloop’. Musk envisioned a transport system which would never crash and would be immune to weather’s vagaries. It would also be thrice or four times as fast as a bullet train, with an average speed that would be twice of an aircraft.

A year later, Musk released a detailed idea about the technology, stating that it could be passenger-packed pods which would travel through long tubes at 760 mph (1,220 km/h), using solar energy.

With this system, the travelling time between Los Angeles and San Francisco could be reduced to 30 minutes (it is currently three hours in high-speed trains). According to Musk,

the Hyperloop project could be the right solution for high-traffic city pairs which are about 1,500 km apart.

The high speed is achieved as the pods, which carry passengers, move using magnetic levitation. The speed increases further due to the near-vacuum conditions inside the tubes, which reduce resistance to the pod as it travels within the tube. Musk open-sourced this idea and called upon companies and individuals, with the right resources, to take it forward.

Among the several companies formed to develop the idea, Hyperloop One, founded in 2014, emerged as a major player. In 2017, Hyperloop One received a major investment from billionaire Richard Branson, and was rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One.

How was Pune-Mumbai Hyerloop envisaged?

In February 2018, Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, attended the Magnetic Maharashtra Convergence organised by the then state government, headed by Devendra Fadnavis. Branson announced that his company will set up hyperloop connectivity in Maharashtra, between central Pune and the Navi Mumbai airport.

The responsibility of the project was given to the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA), which later announced that the project will be implemented in two phases.

In the first phase, a test track will be built on an 11.4-km corridor from Gahunje to Ozarde, and if that worked out, a final track of 117.5 km will be built in the second phase. It was said that the service, once operational, would connect 1.5 crore people from the two cities by undertaking 15 crore passenger trips per year. The service was also expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 86,000 tonnes over 30 years.

Which other cities are exploring a Hyperloop?

Currently, nine companies are working on the technology, and they have announced construction of test tracks as well as intercity transport systems in various parts of the world.

Prominent among these companies are US-based Virgin Hyperloop One, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Canada-based TransPod. An Indian company, called the DGWHyperloop India, has also entered the arena.

In the last few years, various companies have announced a number of routes, with the leading projects being the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop, one connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, one between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, another from Amravati to Vijayawada, a track connecting Missouri’s largest cites including St Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, and several routes in Canada including Toronto-Montreal, Toronto-Windsor and Calgary-Edmonton.

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