CHEETAH REINTRODUCTION PLAN

  • Namibian experts warns that Cheetah project overestimated carrying capacity of Kuno Park.
  • India declared Cheetah extinct in 1952. Project Cheeta aims to introduce Cheeta back to India and to establish a free-ranging population of cheetahs in India.
  • The first batch of 8 Cheeta from Namibia were introduced to Kuno national park in Sept, 2022, and a second batch of twelve African cheetahs from South Africa were introduced in Jan, 2023.
  • India’s Cheetah Action Plan 2021 claimed that the 748 sq km Kuno National Park could hold 21 cheetahs. However African cheetahs in unfenced reserves, usually occur at less than 1 animal per 100 sq km.

What is the concern now?

  • According to a group of Namibian researchers Project Cheetah overestimated the carrying capacity of Kuno National Park and did not factor in the unique spatial requirement of the species before flying in 20 spotted cats from Africa.
  • The cheetah project overestimated Kuno’s carrying capacity based on the assumption that augmenting the prey base by shifting and stocking herbivores will support more cheetahs but cheetah density does not depend on availability of food alone.
  • In Namibia, cheetah territories are larger and prey density lower, in East Africa territories are smaller and prey density higher, but the distance between territories is constant and no new territories are established in between. However, these distances were ignored at Kuno.

What could be the likely fallout?

  • Multiple cheetahs could fan out of the national park in search of territories in the larger Kuno landscape dotted by 169 villages.
  • Researchers fear that three males flown in from Namibia would occupy the entire area, forcing the South African male cats to venture out of the national park and invite conflict.
  • What is the Possible solution?
  • To capture and pack away the ‘straying’ cheetahs to alternative sites or hold them in enclosures. Anyway, this will defeat the stated goal of Project Cheetah i.e., “to establish a free-ranging population of cheetahs.
  • The prey base of Kuno can be strengthened by translocating nilgai and blackbuck from sites where they are seriously damaging agriculture.

Increase in Wheat Procurement

  • Recently, the wheat procurement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and State government agencies has surpassed last year’s procurement.
  • It is done either by FCI directly or by State Government Agencies (SGA).
  • FCI was established under the Food Corporation Act of 1964, in order to fulfill the following objectives:
  • Effective price support operations for safeguarding the interests of the farmers through MSP on food grains (Rice, Wheat, and coarse grains).
  • Distribution of food grains throughout the country for the Public Distribution System (PDS) and other schemes.
  • Maintaining a satisfactory level of operational and buffer stocks of foodgrains to maintain the Central pool to ensure National Food Security.
  • Punjab has traditionally been the number 1 contributor to the Central Pool.
  • In Punjab and Haryana under the centralized system, wheat is procured through Arhtiyas (commission agents) as per the state APMC Act. In other states, wheat (or paddy) is procured directly from the farmers by FCI or SGAs.
  • Wheat is being procured under the DCP from eight states Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, and Maharashtra.
  • Procurement period differs from state to state. This mainly happens during the current marketing season.

About Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • It is a decentralized (DCP)/centralized (non-DCP) process of market intervention by the Government of India to secure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices.
  • Announced by the Government of India at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops.
  • Government announces MSPs for 22 mandated crops and fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane.
  • There is no law backing for MSPs.

Challenges faced by the farmers:

  • Imposition of value loss by the Ministry of Food.
  • Delay in payment of MSP against wheat procurement.
  • Less production last year due to a spike in March temperatures and an increase in private purchases.
  • The amount of MSP is declared by the government before the sowing of the crop every year.
  • Declared on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP).

Procurement Cost to the Government

  1. FCI defines it as “the total cost” of procurement which includes:
  2. Acquisition and distribution costs
  3. MSP
  4. Incidental costs of procurement
  5. State taxes
  6. Commission to Arhtiyas or societies
  7. Cost of bagging materials
  8. Mandi labour
  9. Transportation to the depot, etc.

The Annual requirement of wheat for government schemes:

  1. The annual offtake from the Central Pool has been for
  2. Distribution under the National Food Security Act, 2013
  3. Other welfare schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and Atma Nirbhar Bharat program for migrant workers amid the pandemic.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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