28 October, 2020

Guzzle Grain, Go Hungry

The move to let ­damaged crops be used for ­fossil fuel production may hurt food availability, price

‘Damage’
Salvaging from grain left to rot due to lack of storage in Punjab
Photograph by AP
Guzzle Grain, Go Hungry
outlookindia.com
2018-06-01T11:36:44+05:30

A little over a decade ago, India’s first national biofuel policy categorically stated that ‘fuel vs. food security’ was not relev­ant in its context as “bio-ethanol is produced mai­nly from molasses, a byproduct of the sugar ind­ustry. In future too, it would be ens­ured that the next generation of technologies is based on non-food feedstocks”. On May 16, however, the Narendra Modi-led cabinet, approved a new biofuel policy that “expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by all­owing use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch containing mat­erials like corn, cass­ava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes unfit for human consumption, for ethanol production.”

So, is the new policy a negation of the earlier assurance on the food-secur­ity-versus-fuel debate?

This policy seeks to justify the switch by stating that “farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate prices for their produce during the surplus...

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