The Growth Of The Ethanol Sector Is An Example For The World: Piyush Goyal

By Outlook Planet Desk May 03, 2023

During a one day seminar on ‘National Seminar on Maize to Ethanol’, the minister highlighted how ethanol will support maize farmers in increasing their income 

The Growth Of The Ethanol Sector Is An Example For The World: Piyush Goyal
Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Textiles and Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal. Image Courtesy: PIB

When speaking at a one-day seminar on "National Seminar on Maize to Ethanol" organised by the Department of Food and Public Distribution here today, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Textiles, and Commerce and Industry, said that the ethanol sector has grown tremendously and has served as an example for the rest of the world.

Goyal said that for the past nine years, the sugar industry has been self-sufficient, paying farmers for the preceding season in 99.9% of cases. As with sugarcane farmers, ethanol will now help maize farmers increase their income and bring about growth and stability. The creation of thousands of jobs in the rural sector thanks to investment totaling thousands of crores has had a multiplier effect on the Indian economy. 

He emphasised that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has prioritised the use of environmentally friendly fuels like ethanol, which has led to an increase in ethanol blending of more than double in just two years and a postponement of the aim of 20% ethanol blending from 2030 to 2025.

These accomplishments have been made possible, according to him, by the Government of India's timely planning, policies that are supportive to business, and transparent approach. He highlighted the necessity of coordinated efforts from the federal government, states, research institutions, OMCs, and distilleries to meet the aim of a 20% ethanol blend while always prioritising the needs of the farmers.

The Union Minister emphasised how India has improved by achieving greater targets in less time to become the global leader. The E 20 target was pushed back from 2030 to 2025 so that India may have clean fuel while advancing the interests of farmers.

Manoj Ahuja, the secretary of agriculture, also stressed on the need for a more targeted and region-specific approach to encouraging maize cultivation across the nation. The Secretary of Petroleum applauded the notion and spotlighted the effort OMCs had made in conjunction with industry to meet the 10% blending objective last year and to be on track to meet the 20% blending target by the deadline. 

As a basic requirement to meet the aim for grain-based distilleries, the Secretary, F & PD underlined the need for assured procurement of maize at MSP and an evolving enabling ecosystem for the entire sector.

Distilleries in India typically create ethanol from molasses, a by-product of the sugar industry. To meet the 20% blending objective, however, the sugarcane route alone is insufficient; as a result, ethanol from food grains, including maize, damaged food grains (DFG), and rice that are available with FCI, has also been permitted. About 1016 crore litres of ethanol would be needed for the target of blending 20% ethanol with petrol by 2025, and another 334 crore litres of ethanol would be needed for other uses. 

If the plant runs at 80% efficiency, then around 1700 crore litres of ethanol production capacity would be needed for this. According to estimates, 165 LMT of food grains would be needed to produce ethanol in order to meet the 20% blend target. The use of maize as a feedstock for ethanol production is still gaining traction in India, despite the fact that it uses less water and is more cost-effective globally. There is currently very little ethanol production from maize by grain-based distilleries in India; instead, they use either damaged food grains (DFG), such as broken rice, or FCI rice to make ethanol from food grains. 

The production of maize in the country is consistent. However, due to low demand for maize, farmers are not getting an appropriate price for their produce. Production of ethanol from maize will increase the demand of maize and therefore will fetch a better price to farmers. At present, due to export demand, maize prices are high but generally, the market price of maize remains below MSP leading to low cultivation area for the crop. Use of maize for ethanol production would assure better prices and consistent demand for maize, leading to more cultivation of the crop, which is a less water consuming crop as compared to paddy. Further, distilleries too shall be assured about the availability of feedstock in the market, which will not only create a win-win situation for both distillers and farmers but also would be of great help in conservation of water and the environment.

Utilising multiple feedstocks will ensure feedstock security and alleviate any pressure on a single feedstock's availability for ethanol production. Maize-based ethanol is also more cost-effective and water-efficient.

All the parties involved in the discussions decided to work together to promote maize production, yield, and area. Similar to the sugarcane industry, distilleries must assist maize farmers and guarantee the purchase of their crop at the MSP pricing for maize. A medium-term stable pricing strategy on the topic has also demonstrated the Petroleum Ministry's commitment to encourage the production of ethanol from maize. The Indian Institute of Maize Research will focus on developing better varieties, and distilleries must cooperate with the Cattle & Animal Feed Manufacturers' Association (CLFMA) to establish DDGS quality standards in order to take advantage of the enormous market potential.  Higher profitability for farmers, distilleries, and the industry as a whole could be ensured with an integrated strategy that includes ethanol, DDGS, and other by-products from maize. This strategy would also cater to almost 50% of the demand for ethanol for fuel through grain-based distilleries.

As a result, the seminar concentrated on bringing together experts from a wide range of technological fields with the goal of exploring how to use technology as a force multiplier to understand the concerns and challenges in promoting maize cultivation as well as to identify a suggestive course of action to advance in achieving higher maize production in the country, which would undoubtedly benefit not only farmers and distilleries but would also be of great help in reducing food insecurity.

The seminar was organised to align Atmanirbhar Bharat's goal of meeting the nation's fuel energy demands through the Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) Programme with the Central Government's goal of advancing the interests of the nation's maize farmers. The seminar's main goal was to gather all key players in the maize and ethanol industries together on one stage to talk about the best ways to promote maize as the main grain used as a feedstock for ethanol production in order to meet the 20% blending target by 2025. The seminar was divided into four segments, each of which concentrated on a crucial element of the entire scenario.

Eminent specialists from various government departments, institutes, oil marketing companies, and industries attended the seminar with Secretary DFPD Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Secretary, Pankaj Jain. The seminar was attended by eminent professionals from the ethanol business, the sugar industry, the Animal Feed Marketing Association, and seed and equipment providers.