On the day that US President George Bush accused India’s growing prosperity of causing the global food crisis, Indian government officials said India can teach the US to sustain a biofuel programme without risking the country’s food security or causing a global food crisis.
The US has diverted one-third of its maize production for making ethanol to meet its domestic fuel demand and has been giving huge subsidies for agro-fuels. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Geneva recently that the trend of “development emergency” should be checked and the policies pursued by the West reviewed.
India has taken into account the impact of biofuel production on food security in its Action Plan on Climate Change.
The Action Plan will make it clear that agricultural land or foodgrains for human consumption will not be used to sustain biofuel production, thereby preventing any threat to the country’s food security, government sources told HT on Saturday.
Pradipto Ghosh, former environment secretary and a member of the PM’s Council on Climate Change, said India can produce enough biofuels without risking its domestic food bowl. “India produces 500 million tonnes of crop residue every year which can utilised to produce 250 million tonnes of ethanol, enough to meet the country’s biofuel requirements,” he said.
Some experts differ. They say India will have to increase its sugarcane production by 16 per cent to meet the target of 20 per cent ethanol blending by 2011.