Mumbai: Large tracts of unused fertile land in Africa offer scope to India to meet its bio-fuel needs and cut dependency on natural fuel, a senior United Nations official said here.
“Countries like Tanzania and Uganda have enough unused fertile land. If Indian companies can grow oil crops in a very sustainable way, the country can reduce its dependence on natural fuel,” senior industrial development officer, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Masato Tsukji told PTI.
“There are huge opportunities in Africa for producing palm oil. Malaysia is a major producer of Palm Oil (90% of world’s production),” he said.
Due to growing problems in many oil producing countries and diminishing oil reserves coupled with rising fuel prices, the world is looking at bio-fuel as the alternate energy source.
“Being a growing economy with a billion plus population, India too should tap more bio-fuel sources to meet its energy needs, the UNIDO official said.
About 30% of India’s energy needs are met by oil, and more than 60% of that is imported.
A growth in oil demand has resulted in India’s annual petroleum consumption increasing by more than 75% from what it was a decade ago, and petroleum consumption is projected to climb to about 3 million barrels a day by 2010.
“India is currently the world’s sixth greatest oil consumer, accounting for 2.9% of annual consumption. If India manages to increase bio-fuel production, it can not only combat high oil prices, but can also contribute toward reducing the green house emissions to cut down global warming,” he said.
India commenced on its biofuels use journey in 2003. The programme to sell diesel mixed with non-edible oil extracted from Jatropha Curcas and Pongamia Pinnata could reduce India’s import dependence.
In Europe, red seed oil is being used to produce bio-diesel. They are blending 3% of it in natural fuel.
According to him, higher production of bio-fuel provides a win-win situation for the entire world.
“Bio-fuel would not only decrease natural oil prices, but also reduce the risk element as no one country can hold the world to ransom,” Tsukji said.