An international technical workshop on ‘Bioethanol, maize and wheat: opportunities and risks’, jointly organized by CIMMYT and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), was held on 4–5 November in New Delhi. The meeting was a forum for debate and knowledge-sharing, and will form a springboard to future research and action.
About 40 participants came from across the globe and included researchers, policy makers and managers from the public and private sectors in agriculture, rural development and environment. Attending from CIMMYT were John Dixon, Olaf Erenstein, Raj Gupta, Masa Iwanaga, Rodomiro Ortiz, and Ashish Srivastava.
The focus was on the wide range of potential opportunities and risks, posed by the ongoing expansion in biofuels, for the food security and livelihoods of the poor and for the environment. These are complex and not yet well understood. For example, higher grain prices due to demand for use in biofuels may boost farmers’ incomes, but may also lead to increased hunger and malnutrition.
CIMMYT and IFPRI are conducting a joint assessment of likely effects on food stocks and trade, national and household food security, and farm household livelihoods; John Dixon of CIMMYT and Siwa Msangi of IFPRI presented the workshop with an overview and scenario analysis. Delegates considered specific aspects of using biofuels, including national status and strategies in India, China, and Uganda, technical and environmental issues, and opportunities and risks in different agro-ecosystems. The participants ended by identifying and discussing priority issues for research.
The conclusions and recommendations will be presented to GFAR and to the CGIAR AGM in December, where CIMMYT will lead a side event on biofuels.