Food Policy

  • Pricing food in poor India

    The government is being severely criticised for the wheat it is now planning to import. Rightly so. India s season for wheat ended a few months ago. When the crop was being harvested the

  • World Bank urges benefit assessment of bio-fuel

    The World Bank, admitting the competition between food and fuel crops for land and water, has asked the national governments to carefully assess economic, environmental, and social benefits and the potential to enhance energy security. In its World Development Report-2008, it said: "The challenge for developing country governments is to avoid supporting bio-fuels through distortionary incentives that might displace alternative activities with higher returns - and to implement regulations and devise certification system to reduce environmental risks.' It suggested that the potential environmental risks from large scale bio-fuels production can be reduced through certification schemes for measuring environmentalaspects. It suggested a Green Bio-fuels Index of GHG reductions. The World Bank quoted that according to some available estimates, current bio-fuel polices the world over, can lead to a five-fold increase of the share of bio-fuels in global transport energy consumption - from 1% today to around 5% to 6% by 2020. "The grain required to fill the tank of a Sports utility vehicle with ethanol (240 kg of maize for 100 litre ethanol) could feed one person for a year, so competition between food and fuel is real,' the World Bank report said. It added that future bio-fuel technology may rely on dedicated energy crops and agricultural and timber wastes instead of food crops. "Technology to break cellulose into sugars distilled to produce ethanol or gasify biomass is not yet commercially viable - and will not be for several years. And some competition for land and water between dedicated energy crops and food crops will likely remain,' the report said. It further said that second generation bio-fuels using cellulosic technologies were likely to require even larger economies of scale, with investment costs in hundreds of millions of dollars just to build one plant. The report admitted that in industrial countries and till recently in Brazil, bio-fuel programmes were supported by high protective tariffs and large subsidies. These policies have caused land conversion away from food and led to an upward pressure on global food prices, severely affecting poor consumers. With a view to make bio-fuels compete with gasoline, industrial countries gave massive support and subsidies. According to recent estimates, more than 200 support measures costing around $5.5-7.3 billion a year in the US amount to $0.38-0.49 per litre of petroleum equivalent for ethanol and $0.45-0.57 for bio-diesel. In this context, the World Bank report questions - Are bio-fuels economically viable without subsidies and protection? It answers: "The breakeven price for a given bio-fuel to become economical is a function of several parameters. The most important determining factors are the cost of oil and the cost of the feedstock, which constitute more than half of today's production costs. Other often more cost-effective ways of delivering environmental and social benefits need to be considered, especially through improvements in fuel efficiency.

  • Food is a great asset minus fund managers

    Investors can't afford to ignore food. As a hedge against a possible US recession, and direct exposure to rising urbanisation and wealth in Asia, it's an asset class that's tailor-made for the present times. As Jim Rogers of New York-based investment firm Rogers Holdings puts it, "If you're in agriculture, you don't know that there is a recession, you don't care.'' That may be as true for investors in agricultural commodities as it is for farmers, provided the former don't rely on the expertise of fund managers to beat the futures markets.

  • Food demand may double in 50 years'

    Lead author of the World Development Report-2008, Alain de Janvry, has warned that the global demand for food is expected to double within the next 50 years, while the natural resources that sustain agriculture will become "increasingly scarce, degraded and vulnerable to the impact of climatic changes'. Delivering a lecture on "Agriculture in the contemporary world' here over the week-end, Prof. Alain de Janvry said the agriculture sector not only needed greater investments, but should also be placed at the centre of the planning process to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. The lecture was organised by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) here. Prof. Alain de Janvry

  • MP tops due to its successful agriculture policy

    Farmer Welfare, Agriculture Development and Cooperative Minister Gopal Bhargava said that the state government has made unique efforts in agriculture and cooperative sector in last four years and this is the result of the same that today Madhya Pradesh tops among the other states in the country in agriculture production whereas cooperative institutions and firms have come up from losses of worth crores of rupees and now helping the farmers. Bhargava was answering in Vidhan Sabha today on the supplementary demands of his department. He told that gram production is 937kg per hectare whereas national production average is 808kg per hectare. Our state ranks number one in the country. Similarly, in soyabean production the contribution of our state is 54.41 per cent. In pulses crop production the state's contribution is 24.14 per cent and in oil crop production its contribution is 20.44 per cent. In this way Madhya Pradesh is such a country in agriculture sector which has emerged number one in overall crop production in the country. He said that the state has secured remarkable achievement in wheat production. In the year 1997-98 where the wheat production was 1655kg per hectare now with the efforts of state government it has reached up to 2 thousand kg per hectare. Government of India has proved this achievement of the state. Similarly the state has secured achievement in providing advanced seeds to the farmers. The farmers could only get 4.77 lakh quintal advanced seeds in the year 1997-98 whereas today they are being given 11 lakh 57 thousand quintal advanced seeds. Talking about sugarcane production, Bhargava said that sugarcane crop production has increased due to the agriculture policy of state government. He said that Kisan Mahapanchayat was organised and first time the farmers were given waiving and assisting facilities worth Rs 5 thousand 7 hundred crore which is a historical initiative of the government in favour of farmers. He said that Apex Bank is in profit of Rs 31.42 crore this year. It was awarded as cooperative institution in the whole country. The farmers who were only distributed agriculture loan of Rs 1273 crore in the year 2003-04 now has been increased up to Rs 3 thousand crore in the year 2008-09. In the year 2008-09 the state government has set target to provide Rs 4.5 thousand crore as agriculture loan. He said that the farmers earlier used to receive roan on 18 to14, 14to 7 per cent and now the state government has made arrangement to provide loan on 5 per cent rate of interest. In this connection at around 32 lakh farmers would get the benefit of this provision.

  • VAT on foodgrains abolished

    Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, while presenting his Budget for 2008-09 today proposed abolition of Value Added Tax (VAT) from rice, pulses, atta, maida, suji and besan.

  • Targeted PDS coverage below 50 per cent

    A Planning Commission study has revealed that only about 42 per cent of subsidised foodgrain reach targeted families.

  • Rejuvenating agriculture with the help of the small farmer

    The small farmer might be the solution to the ongoing crisis in the farming sector in India.

  • Lok Sabha passes Bill clearing decks for Food Authority

    Paving the way for setting up of an authority to regulate food items across the country, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill to amend the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

  • Raise the food subsidy

    The Wholesale Price Index numbers for the week ending March 8, released last week, showed that the inflation rate surged almost a percentage point compared to the previous week.

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