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India Pledges Farm Technology
To Make Africa Self-Sufficient in Food

April 10, 2008 (EIRNS)—At the end of the two-day (April 8-9) India-African Union Summit, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says India and Africa must meet their food needs through domestic production. He promised to help Africa with technology to increase farm productivity. African leaders say they are ready for investment and technology from India's more mature economy. They requested India to "walk the talk" and deliver on its promises.

African Union head Alpha Oumar Konare said the meeting had understood Africa's aspirations for a partnership on an equal footing. "We do not want to be horses any longer on which people will continue to ride," he said. "Everyone has to get off our backs. We will run the race like everyone else. We have to be ready to run and we are equal partners in the race."

Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who attended the Summit, said the high prices of food will negate efforts for faster growth and poverty reduction..African and Indian leaders identified rising oil and food prices as top concerns as they wrapped up a two-day summit in New Delhi.

While the move to turn food into fuel has benefited a few African nations with grain surpluses, such as Uganda, speakers at the first Africa-India Forum blamed the tactic for skyrocketing prices and shortages. It was pointed out that since April, 2006, eight million hectares of corn, wheat, soya and other crops that once provided animal feed and food have been diverted from food production in the United States to biofuels. In 2008, 18% of U.S. grain production will go to biofuels.

Brazil — the world's largest ethanol producer — Argentina, Canada and Eastern Europe are diverting large amounts of sugar cane, palm oil and soybean crops to biofuels. Europe has mandated a 5.75% use of biofuels by 2010. If achieved, this could require 20% of Europe's cropland to be diverted from food to fuel production.

If Australia were to replace 10% of its unleaded gasoline with bio-ethanol, and if this were to come from fermentation of wheat, it could require about 40% of the country's annual average wheat crop.