Green sees red

Published: Saturday 30 November 1996

if predictions of a recent study are to be believed, India is facing widespread famine. According to the report, In the Famine Trap, overpopulation, degradation of arable land and India's push to become a food exporter are threatening the country's food security. The report has been commissioned by The Ecological Foundation, a Delhi-based environmental group and the uk Food Group, a coalition of development aid groups.

The study's author, Devinder Sharma, an independent agriculture specialist says, "India is only one or two bad monsoons away from a terrible crisis." The report suggests that instead of promoting food exports, India should improve its contingency plans to deal with a failed harvest. The government has, however, dismissed these predictions.

The country now maintains a buffer stock of about 27 million tonnes and in recent years has been exporting rice and wheat to international markets. The main threat, says Sharma, is posed by land degradation in the farming states of Punjab and Haryana due to poor water management.

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