ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is Higher Demand for Biofuels Fuelling Food Prices?

One reason for the increase in world food prices is that of food consumption, especially in developing countries. Another is the demand for cereals and food crops to produce biofuels. Which is the more dominant factor that can explain this surge?

Freeing Trade in Agriculture-Implications for Resource Use Efficiency and Cropping Pattern Changes

If India frees up imports and exports of agricultural products at zero duty, there is a possibility of reaping significant gains from trade, while promoting resource use efficiency (RUE) in domestic cropping patterns. The declining share of cereals in gross cropped area may slow-down and even see reversal in some pockets. Similarly, area expansion under oilseeds will decelerate. India may emerge as a marginal exporter of cereals and cotton, while importing edible oils and pulses. From overall efficiency point of view, agricultural trade liberalisation would benefit India.

Self-Sufficiency and Allocative Efficiency in Edible Oils

Self-Sufficiency and Allocative Efficiency in Edible Oils Ashok Gulati Anil Sharma Deepali S Kohli WE welcome the comments by M L Dant wala (EPW, July 6) on our paper "Self Sufficiency and Allocative Efficiency: Case of Edible Oils' (EPW, March 30). Dantwala's major remarks on our paper are the following: (i) We have overlooked the commendable increase in productivity of oilseeds cultivation; (ii) We have ignored a noteworthy feature of the oilseeds economy that incremental production has been contributed mostly by the areas with relatively low irrigation facilities, through the extension of cultivation to fallow lands, substitution of some low- yielding coarse cereals by oilseeds and their cultivation as a catch crop in some areas; (iii) While supporting our argument on excessive price incentives offered to oilseeds producers we used the wholesale price index of edible oils rather than oilseeds and governmentdid not contribute to this relative shift towards oilseed prices; (iv) We have argued against the setting up of Technology Mission on Oilseeds (TMO), the National Oilseeds Development Project (NODP), Oilseeds Production Thrust Project (OPTP) and deliberately chosen market intervention in the oilseeds sector for discussion; and (v) World prices are not a relevant reference point for judging the appropriateness of domestic prices or allocative efficiency.

Self-Sufficiency and Allocative Efficiency-Case of Edible Oils

Case of Edible Oils Ashok Gulati Anil Sharma Deepali S Kohli With the opening up of imports and exports of agricultural commodities, India is likely to experience increasing levels of edible oil imports. Simultaneously, its exports of cereals and cotton may increase substantially. Cropping pattern changes, which had been moving in favour of oilseeds since mid-1980s, may slow down and even reverse in favour of cereals in the coming years. Economically, the nation is going to be a net gainer through these trade policy changes. But 'self-sufficiency' in edible oils would be under threat unless the focus of policy-makers shifts from overplaying with the price instrument to its productivity augmentation.

Subsidy Syndrome in Indian Agriculture

The economy-wide analysis of input subsidies in Indian agriculture reveals that subsidies have outlived their aim and have become unsustainable. In order to release resources for higher investments in the agricultural sector, large- scale price and institutional reforms are needed to relieve the pressure of subsidies on the Exchequer. Under the circumstances, it makes much sense to improve terms of trade for agricultre and complement this by stepping up investment in agriculture through reduction in subsidies. The increased investment in agriculture appears to be a better bargain than short-sighted measures such as subsidies. This is because of the fact that cultivable land in India is in short supply and raising productivity per unit of cultivable area will require heavy investments in irrigation, rural infrastructure, research and extension. Also, investments in basic infrastructure correct for regional imbalances and promote greater equity at farm level, while subsidies tend to accentuate inequality.

Agriculture under GATT What It Holds for India

Agriculture under GATT: What It Holds for India Ashok Gulati Anil Sharma This paper attempts to analyse the likely impact of India's commitments on agriculture and Intellectual Property Rights, especially commitments pertaining to market access, domestic support and export competition in the area of agriculture.

PUNJAB-Panchayat Elections A Turning Point

'Hindu mindset' is fast taking shape at the various levels of society. More than any intensive spelt of rioting on the pattern of Bombay or Ahmedabad, this has been one of the most enduring legacies here of the events of December 6. In fact the Hindutva combine is at present quite of capable of generating a significant response on the Kashi and Mathura controversies as well, which can prove more irksome than the Ram Janmabhoomi issue. For unlike Ayodhya, where the BJP game-plan smacked of a deliberate bid to create a controversy, in areas like Varanasi, sentiment over the Gyan Vyapi mosque- Vishwanath temple issue has a more substantial grounding. The setting of the two sites also is more open to interpretations of various hues and, in contrast to Avadh (where the Babri mosque was located), Purvanchal or east UP has a history of polarisation along communal lines. It remains to be seen whether all this will get translated into votes for the BJP (it is still possible that the backward castes and in particular the Dalits, in spite of getting caught in the Hindutva wave may end up voting for a non-BJP formation on the basis of political calculations). But generally the situation looks favourable for the party of the saffron. On the other hand, the Congress shows little signs of regaining even a semblance of popular support from different sections of society. The upper castes are now once again with the BJP, while amongst both the minorities and the secular forces in general the Congress is being reduced to playing a progressively diminishing role. Not surprisingly, the party is keeping its options open and is mixing its exhortations about safeguarding the Constitution wilh subtle kow-towing to Hindu sentiment in a bid to regain the initiative.

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