Wednesday, March 23, 2016

INDIA 2016 : Mango hub goes the organic way

Updated: March 23, 2016 05:57 IST


Mango trees in full bloom at Muthalamada in Palakkad. The Ashrayam Rural Development Society has started an initiative to make value-added products from organically cultivated mangoes.–Photo: K. K. Mustafah

Value-added mango products to hit market soon

 In a welcome initiative to shrug off the dubious legacy of Kerala’s mango capital Muthalamada as a toxic hub where orchards indiscriminately spray high-end pesticides on fruits, a grassroots-level initiative is now taking place with women of the panchayat getting training in processing and making value-added products using organically cultivated mangoes. 

Half-a-dozen such mango-based products would hit the Kerala markets on the occasion of Vishu, the harvest festival.

“We began the initiative in Pothanpadam village by training 20 women to make pickle using both fresh mangoes and dried mangoes. They are also trained to make mango pulp, mango jam, ready-to-consume mango drinks and mango-based confectionaries. The Muthalamada Mango Farmers Association (MGFA) and leading traders in the panchayats will ensure supply of the organically grown mangoes and sale of the finished products. The products would be made available across the State in a fortnight,” said S. Guruvayurappan of Ashrayam Rural Development Society, which has taken up the initiative.

Talking to The Hindu , he said the aim of his organisation was to gradually transform Muthalamada into a fully-organic mango destination.

The mango season has just started in Muthalamada and over 300 mango growers are now marketing fully organically cultivated mangoes.

“The new initiative to make mango-based products has secured the support of even farmers and traders. Farmers lost many export orders in the recent past owing to the heavy use of pesticides and chemicals. We have also approached the State government seeking establishment of a mango research centre in Muthalamada with reputed scientists at the helm to guide us further in the organic way,” said Arumugan Pathichira, a social activist in the panchayats.

“Ashrayam is now providing training to mango farmers to develop enzymes using vegetable and fruit wastes. Mixing 3 kg of vegetable or fruit waste with 1 kg of black jaggery and 10 litres of water and keeping the mix for next 90 days would create enzyme for a normal plantation. Apart from being a killer of pests, it would also help growth of quality mangoes,’’ said Mr. Guruvayurappan, who is also an expert in bio-fertilizers.

What the US exports to the rest of the world

By: Justin Fox 

 Mar 21 2016 at 12:00 PM 

 International Trade

When it comes to stuff, the U.S. buys a lot more from the rest of the world than the rest of the world buys from it. The country last ran an overall trade surplus in 1975, and there are few signs that it will stop running big trade deficits anytime soon. Still, there is an area where the U.S. runs large and growing trade surpluses: non-stuff, also known as services.

These services surpluses are still swamped by the goods deficits—but not by nearly as much as in the 2000s.

When you go beyond trade to the current account, which throws in various other cross-border flows of income, there’s another source of surplus. The U.S. brings in a lot more income from investments overseas than foreigners get out of investments in the U.S.—$201.5 billion more in 2015, compared with a services trade surplus of $219.6 billion. 

Almost all of this surplus comes from direct investments by corporations (as opposed to portfolio investments by money managers). U.S. corporations are effectively getting paid for the use of their brands, technology and capital-allocation skills —which sounds like another kind of service export, doesn’t it? These surpluses from services and investment reduce the hole dug by the goods-trade deficit, but there’s still a big gap between what the U.S. is paid and what it pays out—a 2015 current-account deficit of $484.1 billion, or 2.7 percent of gross domestic product, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday. 

To fill that, the U.S. has to import capital from overseas. Depending on your inclination, you can see this as Americans borrowing from foreigners to finance an insatiable spending habit, or foreigners investing in the U.S.‘s limitless potential. It’s surely a bit of both, although I think the record capital inflows that preceded the global financial crisis (the current-account deficit hit 5.8 percent of GDP in 2006) can be fairly described as feckless borrowing more than prudent investing. 

So while a current-account deficit isn’t necessarily bad, it brings danger. All in all, it would be a good idea to keep the U.S. current-account deficit from ballooning to 5.8 percent of GDP again. And it seems like exporting lots of services (in which I would include the services that are accounted for as investment income) could be key to achieving that.

Let’s take a look at what these services are that we export. In his 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” Neal Stephenson offered a now-famous depiction of the international trade situation in the 21st century:

When it gets down to it —talking trade balances here— once we’ve brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they’re making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here— once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity —you know what? 

There’s only four things we do better than anyone else:



microcode (software) 

high-speed pizza delivery

That’s pretty good! The giant ships are here, although they’re generally not from Hong Kong, and the dirigibles may be on their way. And here are the three service sectors in which the U.S. runs the biggest trade surpluses:

The major categories of intellectual property that U.S. entities charge for are industrial processes, computer software, trademarks and franchise fees, and audio-visual and related products. Trademarks and franchise fees cover some of the high-speed pizza delivery. Music, movies and other entertainment fall under audio-visual and related products, and computer software is self-explanatory. Stephenson didn’t hit everything, and music of course doesn’t bring in the revenue it used to, but again: pretty good.

The big money coming in from intellectual property, financial services and travel helps explain certain political priorities. U.S. trade negotiators, for example, were criticized for being overly protective of copyrights and of Wall Street in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Strong copyrights and loose financial regulations have their downsides, but they do probably help increase net services exports—and net investment income as well. Then there’s travel. Foreigners spend a lot more money visiting the U.S. for business, education and pleasure than Americans spend traveling overseas. The notoriously slow and unpleasant entry process for foreigners at U.S. airports stands in the way of this money flow—and whaddya know, the Department of Homeland Security has been working to improve that .

Exporting services somehow doesn’t seem as impressive as putting big things on ships and sending them abroad. It also may not create the kind of broadly shared prosperity that exporting manufactured goods can. But for now, it seems to be where the U.S. has a comparative advantage—and we should probably do whatever we can to maintain that.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

* All of the trade and current-account data in this column can be obtained from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s interactive data application

** The data on investment income isn’t broken down in the way that the services trade data is, so I can’t make a useful chart on that.

*** Pizza Hut owner Yum! Brands, for example, gets a gets about 70 percent of its profits from abroad, although many of its overseas restaurants are company-owned, meaning their profits are counted in investment income rather than service exports.