Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that India will achieve its target of 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol by 2025 instead of 2030. He also maintained that the maize crop will play an important role in implementation of the programme. “In India, distilleries generally produce ethanol from molasses which is the by-product of sugar. However, only sugarcane route is not sufficient to achieve the 20 per cent blending target, therefore, ethanol from food-grains such as maize, damaged food grains (DFG) and rice available with FCI has also been allowed,” Piyush Goyal said. The growth of the ethanol sector has been tremendous which has set a sort of example for the world, he added.
In order to achieve the target of 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol by 2025, about 1016 crore liters of ethanol would be required and about 334 crore liters of ethanol would be required for other uses. For this, about 1700 crore liters of ethanol producing capacity would be required considering the plant operates at 80 per cent efficiency. Timely planning, industry friendly policies and transparent approach of the Government of India with collaboration of industry has made these achievements a reality, Piyush Goyal said, while adding that this will require synchronous efforts of central government, states, research institutes, OMCs and distilleries.
Propagating farmers’ interests
Target of E 20 was preponed from 2030 to 2025 so that India can have clean fuel while propagating farmers’ interests. Goyal said that while ethanol production has significantly helped the sugar industry and the sugarcane farmers, the same can be replicated in maize as well. “There is a need to have a more targeted and region specific approach in promoting cultivation of maize in the country,” said Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, Secretary, Petroleum also highlighted the work of OMCs in collaborating with industry which resulted in achieving a 10 per cent blending target last year.
While globally, maize is the primary feedstock for production of ethanol, in India, it is yet to gain momentum. This will also help maize farmers who are not getting 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, market price of maize remains below MSP leading to low cultivation area for the crop,” the ministry statement said.