By Lester R. Brown | Foreign Policy
the largest food bubbles are in India and China. In India, where farmers have drilled some 20 million irrigation wells, water tables are falling and the wells are starting to go dry. The World Bank reports that 175 million Indians are being fed with grain produced by overpumping.
IN THIS ERA OF TIGHTENING world food supplies, the ability to grow food is fast becoming a new form of geopolitical leverage (DR – an OPEC for foodgrains is not a farfetched possibility), and countries are scrambling to secure their own parochial interests at the expense of the common good.
This January , a new stage in the scramble among importing countries to secure food began to unfold when South Korea, which imports 70 percent of its grain, announced that it was creating a new public-private entity that will be responsible for acquiring part of this grain. With an initial office in Chicago, the plan is to bypass the large international trading firms by buying grain directly from U.S. farmers. As the Koreans acquire their own grain elevators, they may well sign multiyear delivery contracts with farmers, agreeing to buy specified quantities of wheat, corn, or soybeans at a fixed price. [DR - I have talked to large grain buyers in India and the Middle East who are eager to adopt such a model, buying cost-plus from farmers]
Technorati Tags: food, geopolitics, food security
Length Comparison in an old Victorian map between the rivers in South America – the Amazon, River Plate (La Plata), and Orinoco (made famous in song by Enya) with the rivers Ganges and Indus.
via Flickr Photo Download:
The agricultural output of India over the next 3 decades could be severely curtailed if water shortages are not addressed. The populist measure of giving Indian farmers free power has resulted in rapid depletion of groundwater supplies for agriculture. I saved Andy Mukherjee’s Bloomberg columns from 2 years go where he wrote about problems created from lack of wastewater treatment/underpricing of piped water and from a switch to biofuels.
The recent monsoon which has been below normal in India (June precipitation was the lowest in 80 years), have not only caused heartburn in agricultural circles, but also have led to fights breaking out in urban areas over access to reduced water supplies.
Going forward, India faces 2 serious challenges with water supplies for agriculture, both beyond its control:
1) Climate change is causing rapid melt in the Himalayan glaciers “suggesting that the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and other rivers that criss-cross the northern Indian plain may become seasonal rivers in the near future as a consequence of climate change with important ramifications for poverty and the economies in the region.” At least 400 million farmer livelihoods are at risk.
2) Plans to divert water from the Brahmaputa by the Chinese government to feed its parched western/northwestern regions. Even though this is denied in official circles, there is little doubt that this will not be carried out knowing the CCP’s penchant for grandiose-projects like Three Gorges and preventing rain from falling during the Olympic opening ceremony. Moreover, Tibet – China’s Water Tower
is also the source for the Ganges river’s 2 major tributaries – the Kosi and the Gandaki. Attempts to “bottle those rivers” by official apparatchiks cannot be ruled out. The consequences for Indian agriculture are too staggering to contemplate.
Bottomline: Lower riparian states like India, and Iraq as mentioned in a recent NYTimes article, besides various countries in the Middle East and Africa, are almost guaranteed losers in the coming wars over water.
And the, Winners: Fresh Water paradises like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay – perfect candidates for being India’s Agricultural Outsourcing providers. South american rivers like Amazon, Orinoco, Sao Francisco, Parana, Paraguay and Magdalena rivers contain more than 30 percent of the earth’s surface water. Add to that the Guarani Aquifer – the world’s single biggest groundwater source.
It is worthwhile for executives in India’s food and agriculture sector to keep these considerations in mind as they make plans for future growth and business contingencies.
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Technology – an eFood Article at Scientist Live
With the caloric needs of the planet expected to soar by 50 percent in the next 40 years, planning and investment in global agriculture will become critically important, according a new report released today (June 25).
The report, produced by Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s leading global investment banks, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, provides a framework for investing in sustainable agriculture against a backdrop of massive population growth and escalating demands for food, fibre and fuel.
“We are at a crossroads in terms of our investments in agriculture and what we will need to do to feed the world population by 2050,” says David Zaks, a co-author of the report and a researcher at the Nelson Institute’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.
By 2050, world population is expected to exceed 9 billion people, up from 6.5 billion today. Already, according to the report, a gap is emerging between agricultural production and demand, and the disconnect is expected to be amplified by climate change, increasing demand for biofuels, and a growing scarcity of water.
This Sietch blogger has done some calculations relevant for the US. Can be extended to other countries. What intrigued me was his reference to biomass – India and Latin America, are a veritable bounty for biomass with their extensive tree cover, not to mention livestock populations. The potential in India alone is something like 16,000 MW. I think current generation is only around to 1000 MW.
Below are examples of
- a biomass stove developed in India for institutional-scale cooking
- where cow dung is processed in a “bamboo gasifier” to yield fertilizer
- foodwaste used to generate biogas in urban settings! (e.g could be installed in favelas)
As this article mentions, to really scale up renewables what is lacking is not technology but political foresight and will. There are a lot of people getting rich off the petroleum business who want to continue with the status quo and are paying politicians – through lobbying/outright bribes to ensure that.
The Sietch Blog »
Biomass, to put it simply, is anything that grows that you can burn. This includes things like left over farm waste, switch grass, wood chips from logging, sugar cane waste and things like municipal yard wastes. It also includes things like pig, cow , and maybe even human excrement. When you get a lot of poo together you can digest it using bacteria and then burn the resulting methane gas. Biomass is great because you can store it up and burn it when you need it.
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This is like saying ‘Artillery crew leads fight against gunshot wounds’.
California leading the fight is a little rich since it consumes more fuel than India
largely because of its auto-centric transportation system.
Instead of California leading the charge, maybe India should given its favorable position on emissions per capita and energy intensity per capita (See graph above).
In the long line of many others preaching the global warming gospel, but not practicing it.
Los Angeles Times
California formally moved to spread its can-do global warming gospel around the world, signing a declaration Wednesday with 11 other U.S. states and provinces or states in five other countries to help them slash their greenhouse gas emissions.
[S]uccess is far from assured as industrial nations, which have caused much of the world’s global warming, battle with fast-growing developing nations such as China to determine who should cut emissions.
Regional leaders signing Wednesday’s declaration said they would develop strategies for high-polluting industries in an effort to influence the talks. The signers included 12 U.S. governors and state or provincial representatives from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and India.
China, India, Brazil and other fast-developing nations have resisted caps on their emissions.
“The industrial countries that have been spewing out the most greenhouse gases have a higher responsibility to act,” said Gov. Ana Julia de Vasconcelos Carpa of the Brazilian state of Para.
Technorati Tags: climate change, global warming
Eco-absorbed scores in line with National Geographic survey results from earlier this year.
Based on interviews with more than 11,000 respondents in India, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, UK and US, the study unearthed both local and global characteristics that develop the current theories on a number of widely-debated issues.
Brazil, China and India are among those who claim to be most alarmed by climate change, while respondents in the US, UK and Germany demonstrates far lower levels of concern. Likewise, consumers in China, Brazil, Mexico and India would be significantly more willing than their North American, British and German counterparts to spend extra on environmentally-friendly products.
The survey revealed that 86 per cent of Indians would rather buy from companies that are trying to reduce their contribution to global warming. Further, 50 per cent of Indian respondents would be more likely to buy environmentally-friendly goods in the next 12 months, if they were at the same price and standard as their usual brands.
43 per cent of the Indians would be willing to pay a little extra for those goods. Interestingly, Indians believe the oil and fuel sector is the most damaging of all economic sectors in terms of the environment, while banking is perceived to be the least damaging. 57 per cent of Indian respondents also agree that their government is making a significant effort to combat climate change, the second highest proportion, behind only China
Further, 89 per cent of Indian respondents agree that tackling the issue of climate change means changing the way we live our lives. 50 per cent of respondents can be classed as eco-absorbed. The eco-absorbed are those who are very focused on the issue of climate change and India has the third-highest proportion (50 per cent) in the world – behind Brazil (58 per cent) and Mexico (56 per cent ) but far ahead of countries such as Germany (15 per cent) and the UK (17 per cent).
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