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This policy note analyses current European agrofuel policies in terms of their effects on nature and poverty. It argues that agrofuels are exacerbating climate change and that their development is infringing on the land rights of the poor, thus exacerbating poverty. Agrofuels are infringing on the intrinsic existence right of nature, as well as on the right of the poor to sufficient land to produce food.

Pointing to the "loss of dynamism' in agriculture and allied sectors, the 2007-08 Economic Survey calls for a "second green revolution,' particularly in rainfed areas, to rejuvenate the sector and improve the income of those dependent on it. "Any deceleration in the growth of this sector is translated into a lower overall Gross Domestic Product growth.' "The share of agriculture in the GDP registered a steady decline from 36.4 per cent in 1982-83 to 18.5 per cent in 2006-07. Yet this sector continues to support more than a billion people providing employment to 52 per cent of the workforce,' notes the survey. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is estimated to grow at 2.6 per cent during 2007-08 against the previous year's growth of 3.8 per cent. Apart from weather fluctuations, output has been affected on account of reduced capital investment and plateauing out of yield in major crops. The target growth rate for the farm sector is four per cent. In 2007-08, the overall production of foodgrains is expected to be short of the target by 2.2 million tonnes though 10.1 million tonnes higher than the second estimates for 2006-07. Kharif output is expected to be 5.3 million tonnes in 2006-07 while rabi production is expected to be lower by 3.3 million tonnes. Broadly, the survey points out, there was a shortfall in the target of production of foodgrains, pulses and oilseeds from 2000-01 to 2006-07. The production of foodgrains was 93 per cent of the target. During the period, the actual output of pulses on average was 87.7 per cent of target and of oilseeds, 85.3 per cent. Production of sugarcane and cotton, however, exceeded targets. Expressing concern over the low growth of agriculture compared to non-farm sectors, the survey says the gap has begun widening since 1981-82 and more particularly since 1996-97, due to the acceleration in the growth of the industry and services sector. Between 1950-51 and 2006-07, production of foodgrains increased at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent compared to the population growth rate, which averaged at 2.1 per cent, as a result of which India was self-sufficient in foodgrains till 2005-06. The scenario, however, changed between 1990 and 2007 when the rate of growth of foodgrains production fell to 1.2 per cent, which was lower than the average population growth rate of 1.9 per cent. During the period, the per capita consumption of cereals declined from peak 468 gm per day in 1990-91 to 412 gm in 2005-06. The consumption of pulses declined from 42 to 33 gm. There has been a "considerable decline' in the rate of growth of area, production, productivity and the area irrigated for major crops. The area under production of foodgrains over 16 years witnessed an average annual decline of 0.26 per cent during the period from 1989-90 to 2005-06, largely because of a shift from coarse grains. At the same time, there has been a continuous decline in the rate of creation in irrigation potential, adding to the deceleration in farm growth. New schemes The government has recently launched the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, which gives flexibility to States to evolve their own schemes provided they invest in the sector. A National Food Security Mission has been introduced to enhance the production of wheat, rice and pulses. The National Agriculture Insurance Scheme and the pilot weather-based insurance programme must be strengthened for wider coverage, says the survey. "Acceleration of growth in this sector will not only push the overall GDP upwards, it would also make the growth more inclusive and biased in favour of women. Increasing farm incomes is also necessary for equitable growth.'

The first consignment of seeds bound for the

Food-assisted maternal and child health and nutrition programmes usually target underweight children younger than 5 years of age. Previous evidence suggests that targeting nutrition interventions earlier in life, before children become undernourished, might be more effective for reduction of childhood undernutrition.

Later this month, the first batch of seeds will be stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to ensure that should a major catastrophe ever hit the planet, survivors should at least have access to a seed bank and so may be able to grow food. Eventually, over 200000 crop varieties will be hidden in this Arctic ice sanctuary deep in a mountain near the village of Longyearbyen, built by the Norwegian Government for the benefit of mankind.

Sri Lanka raises fuel prices: After doling out huge fuel subsidies for five months, the Sri Lankan government finally increased fuel prices on January 13. The price of petrol has increased by LKR 10

A food crisis looms large in Bangladesh after two waves of floods and a cyclone. Three natural disasters within four months have ruined the late-monsoon aman paddy, the second major cereal crop in

Investments aimed at improving agricultural adaptation to climate change inevitably favor some crops and regions over others. An analysis of climate risks for crops in 12 food-insecure regions was conducted to identify adaptation priorities, based on statistical crop models and climate projections for 2030 from 20 general circulation models.

Some of the most profound and direct impacts of climate change over the next few decades will be on agricultural and food systems. A research by Lobell et al show that increasing temperatures and declining precipitation over semiarid regions are likely to reduce yields for corn, wheat, rice, and other primary crops in the next two decades. These changes could have a substantial impact on global food security.

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