India not to divert agri lands to biofuel production: Minister

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New Delhi, Oct 22 (UNI)India will use only non-cereal biomass, crop residues and bio-fuels crops on degraded lands for producing biofuels and will not divert food crops area for the purpose.

Minister of State for Food Dr Akhilesh Prasad Singh said this while presenting India's stand on biofuels at the International Food Festival at Milan (Italy).

"I assure you that, subject to our domestic and international commitments, my country(India) will work with the world community in addressing the challenges facing us all. We need a new global compact between the developed and the developing countries, between the land surplus and the labour surplus. We stand ready to cooperate with the world community in ensuring both food and energy security for all inhabitants for our planet,'' he said, according to a press release.

''While the quest of the world community for sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels is well appreciated, the manufacture of bio-fuels at the cost of food availability needs to be examined in greater depth'.

Given this scenario, he said, the diversion of cereal producing land for production of bio-fuels is likely to be self-defeating.

''Conversion of foodgrains and edible oil seeds for producing bio-fuel, prima facie, is fraught with food security concerns.

Maybe the evolution of alternative renewable energy resources will reduce the need for use of edible grains for fuel production,'' Dr Singh stated.

The Minister called for multi-pronged strategy to enhance food production, thereby enhancing food security, overcoming poverty and boosting economic growth.

Emphasizing the use of investment, modern technology and inputs, he said, ''We need to increase investments in rural infrastructure, and agricultural research and development and transfer of new technology to farmers to empower them to cope with challenges of climate change.

''The use of frontier technologies in conjunction with sound conventional approaches and enhancing input use efficiency will go a long way in mitigating the effects of rising food prices.'' UNI JSS AKJ SB KP1940

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