Food Access, Food Subsidy, and Residue-Based Bioenergy Production in India
Canadian researchers analyzing the causes of food insecurity in India and the use of new technologies to address food shortages aim to improve access to food supplies in India and elsewhere.
In India, 800 million people live on less than $2 a day. The country has the largest number of undernourished children in the world, with 43% classified as underweight for their age.
Research conducted by the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia will first focus on access to food and the need for food subsidies in India, hindered by rising food prices, a poorly functioning distribution system, and widespread corruption. The goal is to show how the Indian government can improve access to food using new information technologies such as smart cards. This research will take place in Maharashtra, where the Indian government is already field testing Unique Identity numbers.
The research also aims to examine the effect of biofuels on the poor's incomes and food consumption. It will focus on the use of agricultural residues to produce energy and its trickle-down effect on agricultural productivity and food security at the local level. Diverting residues to commercial energy production could improve yields and raise farmers' incomes.
The research will focus on Maharashtra, Bihar, and perhaps Karnataka - three states with significant commercial biogas activities. Findings on how new technologies can improve access to food and the impact of using agricultural residues on energy production for farming will be shared with policy, practitioner, and research communities in India, Canada, and beyond. The profile of the Liu Institute as a Canadian centre for interdisciplinary research on global development issues will also be strengthened, as will the opportunity to connect to the network of food security researchers in Canada, South Asia, and internationally.