Dateline: farm

Published: Sunday 15 August 2004

-- Agri Watch

Eight pages of all the news that the Indian farmer can use -- that's the motto of Agri Watch , a Hindi bi-weekly published from New Delhi by the Indian Agrobusiness Systems Ltd. With an editorial team of 60, stringers all over the country and 300 independent writers, the paper's strength is the commodities market. The editors say they try to cover the entire country, but admit the newspaper has a "northern skew". The paper is utilitarian; and "doesn't do the kind of farm reporting seen in mainstream papers". That's why Agri Watch covers 18 issues of interest to the farmers. The issues, like government policy, organic farming or horticulture are decided on the basis of surveys done by the company.

What about controversial issues like gm crops? The editorial policy is neutral: "choosing or rejecting the crops should be left to the farmers". And what about the Union Budget? "Nothing real for the farmers."

Agri Watch doesn't want anything from the mainstream press, but perhaps can take a few tips on design. The ads jut into gutter space and photographs are smudgy. Farming news doesn't have to look like dirt.

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