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Ethanol & Food Security:The Trade-off



  Jul 31, 2023

Ethanol & Food Security:The Trade-off


Q1: What is ethanol, and how is it produced?

A: Ethanol is a type of biofuel produced from renewable plant sources such as sugarcane, maize, rice, and other grains. It is commonly used as a fuel additive to gasoline, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote cleaner fuel options.
 

Q2: What is the significance of ethanol production in India?

A: Ethanol production plays a crucial role in India's efforts to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the impact of climate change. It offers a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuels and contributes to the country's energy security.
 

Q3: How is India promoting ethanol production?

A: The Indian government has been promoting ethanol production through various policies and initiatives. It has set blending targets for ethanol in petrol, encouraging the use of ethanol in fuel, and offering incentives to ethanol producers to boost production.
 

Q4: What is the current level of ethanol blending in petrol in India?

A: As of now, ethanol blending in petrol has reached 11% in India. The government has set a target to achieve 20% ethanol blending in petrol by the next few years.
 

Q5: What are the sources of ethanol production in India?

A: Ethanol in India is primarily produced from sugarcane molasses, a by-product of sugar manufacturing. However, to meet the higher blending targets, the government has allowed the use of foodgrains like maize, damaged food grains, and rice available with organizations like the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for ethanol production.
 

Q6: How does the allocation of rice for ethanol production work?

A: The government allocates a certain quantity of rice from FCI stocks for ethanol production. Distilleries purchase this rice at a predetermined price from FCI to produce ethanol for blending with petrol.
 

Q7: Why is rice being used for ethanol production?

A: While sugarcane molasses is the primary source of ethanol in India, it may not be sufficient to achieve the 20% blending target by 2025. As a result, using foodgrains like rice for ethanol production has been allowed to meet the higher blending targets.
 

Q8: What are the concerns related to food security in India regarding ethanol production?

A:The diversion of water to crops like sugarcane and rice for ethanol production is a concern, considering the role of climate change on crop patterns.Also,When the government allocates rice from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for ethanol production, it reduces the available stock for the public distribution system and welfare schemes, potentially impacting food security for those dependent on subsidized food grains
 

Q9: How can the government ensure food security while promoting ethanol production?

A: The government can explore options to incentivize non-food crop-based ethanol production, such as from agricultural residues or waste materials. This approach would minimize the competition between food and fuel production.
 

Q10: What are the alternative sources for ethanol production in India?

A: India has vast potential for non-food crop-based ethanol production. Utilizing agricultural residues, municipal solid waste, or other non-food biomass can help maintain food security while promoting renewable energy sources.
 

Q11: How can sustainable agricultural practices support both food security and ethanol production?

A: Implementing sustainable agricultural practices can increase agricultural productivity and crop yields, ensuring sufficient food availability while leaving a surplus for ethanol production without compromising food security.
 

Q12: What role can technology play in addressing the food security-ethanol production dilemma?

A: Advancements in technology can lead to more efficient ethanol production processes, reducing the need for large quantities of food grains. Research and development in biofuel technology can support sustainable energy solutions without impacting food security.
 

Q13: What is the government's long-term strategy to manage the trade-off between ethanol production and food security in India?

A: The government's long-term strategy focuses on diversifying ethanol sources, promoting sustainable agriculture, and implementing effective policies to ensure food security while meeting the energy demands through ethanol production. This balanced approach will contribute to the nation's overall development and sustainability goals.There are three generations of biofuels.When we talk about first generation biofuel, we are referring to biofuels from an existing row crop such as corn ethanol or soy biodiesel. Second generation biofuels are derived from cellulosic biomass such as perennial grasses. Third generation biofuels are to be made from algae


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