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Biofuel production and implications for land use, food production and environment in India

Ravindranath, N.H., Sita Lakshmi, C., Manuvie, Ritumbra, Balachandra, P.
Energy policy 2011 v.39 no.10 pp. 5737-5745
animal products, biodiesel, biodiversity, bioethanol, developing countries, energy, energy crops, energy policy, energy use and consumption, food production, forests, fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, land use, livelihood, livestock, paper, population density, rural development, rural population, wastelands, India
There is a large interest in biofuels in India as a substitute to petroleum-based fuels, with a purpose of enhancing energy security and promoting rural development. India has announced an ambitious target of substituting 20% of fossil fuel consumption by biodiesel and bioethanol by 2017. India has announced a national biofuel policy and launched a large program to promote biofuel production, particularly on wastelands: its implications need to be studied intensively considering the fact that India is a large developing country with high population density and large rural population depending upon land for their livelihood. Another factor is that Indian economy is experiencing high growth rate, which may lead to enhanced demand for food, livestock products, timber, paper, etc., with implications for land use. Studies have shown that area under agriculture and forest has nearly stabilized over the past 2–3 decades. This paper presents an assessment of the implications of projected large-scale biofuel production on land available for food production, water, biodiversity, rural development and GHG emissions. The assessment will be largely focused on first generation biofuel crops, since the Indian program is currently dominated by these crops. Technological and policy options required for promoting sustainable biofuel production will be discussed.