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BIO-FUEL & Food Security + NO To Corporate Contract Farming & Retail Chains In UP

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  • Indian Society For Sustainable Agricultu
    In This NEWS Bulletin *********************************** 1. BIO-FUEL VENTURE - Strike a balance between energy security and food: energy adviser 2. UNDER
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 27, 2007
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      In This NEWS Bulletin
      1. BIO-FUEL VENTURE - Strike a balance between energy security and food: energy adviser
      2. UNDER US-INDIA KNOWLEDGE INITIATIVE - Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh likely to have modern terminal markets
      3. Rising onion prices worry govt
      NO to Corporate Contract Farming & Retail Chains-------
      4. With Delhi in mind, Mayawati keeps ears close to the ground - Withdraws sops for contract farming and corporate retail chains
      5. Government to propose speedy redressal of consumers’ grievances
      Strike a balance between energy security and food: energy adviser
      Posted online: Sunday , August 26, 2007 at 2313 hrs IST
      The government’s energy adviser, Surya P Sethi has said that food and water security concerns are as critical as energy security.
      Proponents of bio-energy often exaggerate their claims of availability of waste and marginal lands, availability of plant varieties and germplasm that need practically no water for growth, yield levels, costs and most importantly the benign nature of bio-energy. These claims, he said are however not based on rigorous research.
      He said that if 60 million hectares of land is used for energy plantation like Jatropha Carcus and other crops), the commercial bio-energy produced would meet only 29% to 35% of country's energy needs even 25 years from today. Data on annual bio-diesel yields from Jatropha ranges from a low of 0.3 tonne to one tonne per hectare.
      Based on available data wood plantations provide the best use of such lands for commercially grown bio-energy as it would yield some 9 times the energy compared to bio-diesel from equivalent land mass.
      The annual yields of bio-energy from wood plantations are estimated at a low of 5 tonne to a high of 20 tonne per hectare, he said.
      According to Sethi, ethanol based on sugarcane or alternate crops could match wood but the crops would require intensive cultivation, water, fertilizer and arable lands.
      Suggesting another alternative Sethi said, “To put this in perspective, just 2.25 million hectare land under solar cells with 15% conversion efficiency could yield the same energy as 60 million hectare of wood plantation. Only 7 to 8 million hectare land under solar cells can give India energy independence even 25 years from today.”
      He suggested setting up solar panels on totally arid lands, including desserts, mountaintops and roof tops.
      According to Sethi about 31% of India’s primary energy needs are met from bio-energy produced on non-commercial basis from agricultural and forest waste, wood chips, animal waste and bio-fuels.
      Bio-fuels have been used for centuries by the tribals. Non-commercial energy will constitute at least 10% to 1 2% of India’s primary energy mix evening 2031-32 and remain as the third important energy source for next 25 years after coal and fossil oil.
      Sethi is of the view that production of bio-energy in a localised and decentralised manner consistent with current patterns is indeed sustainable. He raised questions about the proposed large-scale commercial cultivation of bio-fuel crops,particularly relating to sustainability and viability, impact on eco-systems, socio-economic settings and local lifestyles, livelihood of indigenous people, food and water security. He criticized the US direct subsidy of $ 3.4 billion for corn-based ethanol.
      “The consumers have paid $ 3.6 billion extra for energy they received from 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol in2006. The entire world has suffered the consequences of this $ 7 billion billion subsidy by way of lower availability and consequent higher prices for grains and pulses. Europe and Canada have done the same for subsidy on rapeseed,” he said.
      “How green is the so-called green energy,” questioned Sethi and said that there were growing body of evidences to show “green” fuels were not always green. Studies at Berkley and Academy of Sciences have conclusively shown that greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions through use of doped gasoline using corn-based ethanol (E85) will be less than 0.2% in 2017 when ethanol production is expected to peak in US.
      The total lifecycle emission of 5 major pollutants (carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, PM10, Sox and Nox) are higher with E85 compared to gasoline. E85 also produces much higher concentration of ground level ozone, which is a serious health hazard.
      He said that Indian studies have confirmed that sugarcane-based ethanol has an overall negative energy balance when all energy inputs are considered.  Sweet sorghum based ethanol, bio-diesel, cellulosic ethanol, agricultural and animal waste and wood plantations come out progressively greener.
      Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh likely to have modern terminal markets
      Posted online: Sunday , August 26, 2007 at 2324 hrs IST
      New Delhi, Aug 26 The government has decided to set up seven modern terminal markets in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Madhya Pradesh in the next year under public-private partnership (PPP). The first terminal market will be set up in Chandigarh.
      Modern terminal market complexes would work on the “hub-and-spokes” concept as prevalent in the United States. The terminal market referred to as the hub” would be linked to a number of collection centers (the spokes). The spokes would be conveniently located in major production centers.
      The programme for setting up of terminal markets would be taken under the US-India Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, said the agriculture minister-counselor in the US embassy in India, Holly Higgins.
      She said that when the US-India Knowledge Initiate Board met for the first time in Washington in December 2005, it was decided to focus on four key areas—agro-processing and post-harvest management, biotechnology, water management and capacity building in education and curriculum development.
      Some farmers’ groups and NGOs have been critical of US-India Knowledge Initiative signed in March, last year on the occasion of President Bush visit to India.
      “Our capacity building and joint applied research projects would address impediments to successful agricultural growth, market development, trade, domestic and foreign investments,” she said and added that work has already begun in the National Institute of Agricultural Marketing in Jaipur and in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan.
      According to the additional secretary for agricultural marketing, Karnail Singh as many as 12 state governments have sent their proposals for setting up of terminal markets.
      Punjab has offered to set up terminal markets in four locations, including Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur. The government’s equity in terminal markets will not exceed 49%. Reliance group has shown keen interest in setting up of terminal markets.
      “Studies show that organised markets benefit farmers. Booming retail market and mass population of consumers offer good scope for terminal markets in India,” said Rebecca Black, director, economic growth in the US Agency for International Development. The executive director of the Centre for International Trade in Agriculture and Agro-based Industries (CITA), Vijay Sardana is, however of the view that upgradation of the existing marketing infrastructure would be a viable option than setting up of new terminal markets.
      Rising onion prices worry govt
      Posted online: Sunday , August 26, 2007 at 2300 hrs IST
      New Delhi, Aug 26 Rising prices of onions and vegetables have invited the government’s concern.
      In the last week, the retail prices of onions in different parts of the country ranged between Rs 25 to 30 a kg.
      The rising onion prices have influenced the prices of other vegetables like tomato.
      The government, however, maintains that there is no shortage of onions and that the price rise is due to constraints in transportation and in the supply chain due to adverse weather conditions.
      The price rise of this politically sensitive commodity, onion, in 1998 unseated the BJP-led governments in four states and had given troubles to the ruling NDA coalition at the Centre. The present UPA coalition at the Centre is, therefore, aware of what rising prices of onion can cause.
      The Union finance minister, P Chidambaram has expressed concern over the wholesale price inflation rate of commodities inching to 4.10% in the week ended August 11 from 4.05% in the previous week. The prices of vegetables have risen at a faster pace on year-on-year basis till August 4 – vegetable prices rose by 27.1%, wheat by 10.14%, milk by 8.6%, rice by 6.74%, pulses by 3.33% and wheat flour by 2.91%.
      Expressing concern, particularly over rising vegetable prices, Chidambaram said that this demand-supply mismatch cannot be met through imports.
      Onion prices started rising in the middle of this month. In August 20, the onion prices at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra rose in the range of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,716 per quintal, while at Pimpalgaon Baswant onions were auctioned at prices ranging between Rs 1,255 to Rs 1,751 a quintal. Onion prices have shown slight declines in different parts of the country due to fresh arrivals in the market.
      “The situation is not due to shortage but due to disruption in the transportation and subsequent late arrivals,” said Union agriculture secretary, PK Mishra.
      Some analysts allege that brisk buying by food companies and retail chains might have caused the rise in prices. However the situation is likely to improve with arrivals of summer (kharif) onion crops from north India.
      With Delhi in mind, Mayawati keeps ears close to the ground
      Withdraws sops for contract farming and corporate retail chains
      Posted online: Monday , August 27, 2007 at 0006 hrs IST
      After successfully gaining power in Uttar Pradesh through dalit-brahmin social engineering and completing 100 days of rule, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo, Mayawati, is already flaunting her government's report card.
      Making it amply clear that her party's next move would be to grab power in Delhi, the chief minister claimed that since she assumed office in May 13 this year, her government had already taken as many as 100 decisions in 100 days.
      However, a major highlight of her government's first 100 days is the announcement and subsequent withdrawal of the state’s new agriculture policy, after ‘‘intelligence’’ reports of its unpopularity with a majority of farmers.
      According to an official release, the government had to reverse its earlier decision with a view to protecting the interests of farmers. Under the new policy, formulated on August 3, 2007, corporate houses with net worth exceeding Rs 500 crore could enter into contracts with farmers and procure their produce. The state’s intelligence department conducted a survey in 70 districts, the release added.
      On the law and order front, the state government said it has taken action against 948 out of 1,452 mafia elements, with the elimination of dreaded gangster, Dadua in July 2007 being described as ‘‘a historic success’’.
      For development of the backwards regions of Bundelkhand and eastern UP, Mayawati has demanded a Rs 80,000 crore Special Area Incentive Package from the Centre, over and above the provision of Rs 395 crore in the state budget for these two regions.
      The chief minister’s focus has been on the uplift of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and the weaker sections. The government has decided to set up regional rural employment generation centres, instead of providing unemployment allowances to the youth.
      The amount of Rs 150 being paid under the old age and kisan pension scheme has been doubled to Rs 300. All lease-holders will now get direct possession of land on priority basis, while illegal land grabbers are being evicted. In addition, Scheduled Castes and Tribes will be given possession of gram sabha land on a priority basis, according reports.
      Meanwhile, fearing a law and order problem following large-scale protests by retail traders, the Mayawati government last week ordered closure of Reliance Fresh and Spencer outlets in Lucknow and Varanasi and set up a committee under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary, Shashank Shekhar Singh, to study the impact of corporate entry into the retail sector. The committee will submit its report in a month.
      While corporate representatives said they were still awaiting an official communique in this regard, farmer leaders of the CPI, CPI(M) and Krishan Bir Chaudhary of Bharatiya Krishak Samaj have welcomed the Mayawati government’s action.
      Government to propose speedy redressal of consumers’ grievances
      Posted online: Friday , August 24, 2007 at 0016 hrs IST
      New Delhi, Aug 23 The government is planning to propose necessary amendments to the Consumer Protection Act for ensuring speedy redressal consumers’ grievances and disposal of cases.
      An expert panel set up by the department of consumer affairs had recommended that all consumer cases should be disposed off in a time-bound manner, preferably within 90 days. Where reports from laboratories are required, extra time may be taken for disposal of cases.
      The department of consumer affairs has forwarded the panel recommendations to state consumer fora for their comments and suggestions.
      “After we get feedback from the state consumer fora and the National Commission we will draft the proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act. Our intention is to ensure time-bound disposal of consumer cases,” said a senior official of the department.
      The panel has also pointed out that delay in disposal of cases at the state and district levels was primarily due to lack of adequate infrastructure. In many state and district for a vacancies in the bench were not filled up. In many cases there were inordinate delays in getting reports from laboratories. The panel also suggested setting up of a network of accredited laboratories.
      According to the data available about 9219 cases were pending before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and 110369 cases pending in different state consumer fora till July, this year.

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