Sunday, January 15, 2012

Indian food energy production and consumption: an export land model analysis

Past series (starting here and here) have defined the units and terms used here, explain how I derive food energy contents for the various food items reported by the FAO, and, how these aggregated data can be used to estimate overall food energy production, consumption and export/import rates for individual countries, regions, or the entire world. 

Although India’s food production and consumption trends bear similarities to China as you will see, unlike China, India is not presently, nor in the past, a large importer or exporter of food. 

Throughout, where pertinent, I will point out similarities and differences as compared to China’s or the USA’s food energy product, consumption and exports/imports, the details of which are presented previously here and  here, respectively.

Net Food Energy Production for India
Figure 1 shows the time course of the changes in total net food energy production (blue), and the two major subcategories of plant-derived (red) and animal (green) derived net food energy production.

India has not made up as much ground as China has, as compared to the USA’s food energy production. 

For instance, India’s total annual net food energy production rate (blue circles), has increased by 3.2 times, from about 1815 PJ/yr in 1961, to about 5770 PJ/yr in 2007.   This 3.2 times increase is larger than the 2.4 times increase in the USA's food production over the same period, but lower than China's 4.7 time increase over the same period. 

Similar to China, India’s scale of food production is small compared to the USA’s considering its much larger population (right axis; black Xs).  For example, in 1961, India's population was 457 million compared to the USA's population of 189 million—2.4 times larger.  But, India produced only 55% of the USA’s food energy (i.e., 3246 PJ/yr in 1961).  In 2007, India was still producing only 71% of the USA in 2007 (i.e., 7871 PJ/yr in 2007), even though its population of 1.16 billion was 3.9 times larger than the USA's 300 million population.  In contrast, China's food production increased 4.7 times, but its population increase only 2 times over this same period

Also similar to China, as illustrated in Figure 1, in the 1960s and 1970s, plant-derived food energy dominated India’s food energy production.  There was a subsequent 5 times increase in 2007 compared to 1961 in animal-derived food energy production.  But this is not nearly as dramatic as China's 22 times increase over the same period.  Animal-derived food energy in India is still only about 7% of the total food energy production in 2007.

My overall impression from Figure 1 is that India’s food production has kept up with the population increase from 1961 to 2007.  For instance, the average year-by-year population change from 1961 to 2007 equals 2.1±0.2 percent, while the average yearly change in net food energy production equals 2.6 ± 4.4 percent.

Figure 2 shows this trend more explicitly, presenting 5-year averages of the year-to-year percent changes in net food energy production (total, animal and plant), and the population change.     

Consistent with the USA’s and China’s analysis, the 5-year average of the year-to-year change in total net food production are quite variable, ranging from a 4.9%/yr increase in 1987-91 to only 0.18%/yr in 1962-66.  Animal-derived food production growth has been more stable ranging from 2.6%/yr in 1967-71 to 5.1%/yr in 1982-86. 

There are signs that the rate of population growth is declining from the high 5-year average of 2.3%/yr in 1977-81, to 1.6%/yr in 2002-07.  But, the latter population growth rate is still much higher than China's rate of 0.66%/yr in 2002-07.

Figure 3 presents the same data as in Figure 2, but as a scatter-plot of the 5-year averages of the year-to-year percent changes in population and food energy production as function of the mid-year of each 5-year averaging period.  The solid lines show the linear regression best fits.

Figure 3 shows a significant linear trend (r2=0.57) for a decrease in the growth rate of population but no significant trend (r2=0.02) for the rate of food energy production to be growing or declining.

Extrapolating the linear regression line for population growth suggests that a decline to zero growth will not occur until well beyond 2100. 

It remains to be seen if domestic food production can continue to keep pace with the expected continued population growth, or, not.

Contributors to Net Food Energy Production
Figures 4-7 presents major food items that contribute to the plant-derived and animal-derived net food energy production rates.
Figure 4 illustrates that, as noted above, as a percentage of the total food energy production, total plant-derived food energy dominated food production (e.g., 96% of total production in 1961, and staying about 95% until 1993), and still dominant at 93% in 2007. 

Similar to the USA or China, of the seven subcategories of plant-derived food energy depicted in Figure 4, cereals are the major food type produced in the India, ranging from 59% to 50% of total food energy in throughout 1961-2007.   The sugars are in a distant second at 15-17%.  All of the other food types make more minor contributions (less than 10%) to net food energy production.

Figure 5 focuses on relative contributions of the “big four” plant food items that were important in my previous post (starting here) analyzing the world-wide production trends: maize (corn), wheat and rice, and, soyabean plus oil from soyabean. 

The sum of these four food items has provided anywhere from 39% to 52% of total net food energy production in India from 1961 to 2007.  The most recent 2007 value 48% is in the upper end of this range, and less than the relative contributions of these four food item in the USA (75% in 2007) or China (56% in 2007).

Like China, rice is THE major food energy item produced in India, corresponding to about 30% of total food energy production from 1960 to 1990, and slightly less thereafter, (26% in 2007).

The relative contribution from wheat has gone up from 7% in 1961 to a peak of 20% in 2002 and then back down to 15% by 2007.

In contrast to the USA, or even China, corn makes a very small relative contribution to food energy production in India—only 3% in 2007. Soyabean and soyabean oil is similarly of minor importance at 4% of total food energy production. 

Figure 6 shows the relative contributions from all nine different cereal items separately identified by the FAO: Wheat, Rice, Barley, Maize, Rye, Oats Millet, Sorghum and “Other”

Very similar to China, Rice in India is the dominant cereal, providing about 53% of total cereal energy.  The relative contribution from wheat has roughly doubled to 30-37% over the past decades, while sorghum, millet and barley have all declined.

Figure 7 shows the rise in animal-derived food energy from about 4.5% of total food energy production in 1961 to about 7.2% in 2007. 

This is similar to China but not as large an increase (i.e., 3 to 12% from 1961 to 2007) and the opposite of the USA (i.e., decrease from 14% to 10% from 1961 to 2007).  Unlike China, where the rise in meat production accounts for much of the increase, in India, milk and animal fats are responsible for the increase. 

Consumption of Food Energy
Figure 8 shows the distribution of the Domestic Supply of food energy in India   

The food energy supply for humans is the major domestic consumptive use of domestic food energy, ranging from 70 to 78% of total food consumption though the entire data range.

This is even higher than in China (68% to 54% from 1961 to 2007) and much higher than in the USA (30%).  The low percentages of all the other categories illustrates that, after human food consumption, there is not much domestic food left over for anything else; only processed food is above 10%.

Net Production, Consumption and Net Imports/Exports
Figure 9 shows India’s annual food energy net production and consumption (domestic supply) and the difference—net exports/imports. 

I find this to be the most interesting part of this entire study because of contrasts with both the USA and China.  Whereas USA is a large net exporter and China is a growing net importer, India is neither.  Instead, India has been net neutral in terms of food imports or exports throughout the entire data period. 

As such, India has been, and still is, essentially food independent since 1961.  India nether relies on food exports to generate income or has a trade deficit with respect to food imports. 

This probably reflects India’s government’s plan long term goal to implement its own Green Revolution in the 60s and 70s and to be self-reliant in agricultural production (See Fourth Five-Year Plan and Fifth Five-Year Plan in Five-Year plans of India).  The data in Figure 9 suggests that this plan has largely succeeded, but with a few hic-ups along the way. 

On the greatly expanded relative scale shown in Figure 10, you can see that India's most substantial net food import year was 1967—still, the net food energy imported 136PJ) was only 7% of India's total domestic production.  Since 1970 India's net imports/exports have only ranged from -3 to +1% of total production, with no recent variation in this trend (unlike China).

Figure 11 show the absolute total food energy exports (red) and imports (blue), and net difference between these two (green), which corresponds to the same net exports shown in Figures 9 or 10.

Figure 11 illustrates that, although net import/exports remains relatively small compared to total domestic production, the absolute amount of food being imported and exported has been increasing over the last decade.  For instance, in 2007, absolute food energy imports and exports both equaled 278 PJ, giving rise to a net of zero.   That 278 PJ corresponds to about 4.8% of the total 5780 PJ of food energy production in that year. 

Details of net Food Imports into India
Figures 12 and 13 shows the net food energy imports derived from plants in total (blue circles), and for the different categories of plant food items. 

Figures 12-13 shows that that the maximum in net imports in 1967 was almost totally due to cereal imports, predominately wheat, and mostly from the USA, it turns out. 

That spike in imports in 1967 corresponds to the Bihar Famine of 1966-67 which was due to two extremes in weather: severe drought in 1966 mixed with periods of extensive flooding.  Perhaps, although as suggest by Brass in Bihar Famine of 1966-67, the poor planning and response of the central government worsened the effects of this bad weather. 

Although characterized as a “famine,” the number deaths attributed to the Bihar Famine was only a few thousand (see Famine in India).  This is trivial compared to the earlier Bengal famine of 1943 with deaths due to starvation, malnutrition and disease is the 1.5 to 4 million range.   Maybe the Bihar Famine helped spurred India's Green Revolution and 5-year plans towards agricultural self-sufficiency, which really took off in the 1960’ and 70's.

Subsequent increases in imports, mostly cereals, in the early 1970's, and again, in the early 1980 correspond to the Maharasharound and West Bengal droughts, respectively.  Another spike in imports in 1999 reflects imports of vegetable oils, still a major import item for India (see e.g., India to Cut Cooking Oil Imports by Boosting Local Supplies), but, which of late, has been offset by actual net cereal exports in the mid 2000s. 

Figure 14 shows the net food energy exports/imports derived from animal in total (blue circles), and for the different categories of animal-derived food items.  

Despite a steady increase in the total net animal-derived food energy exports in the last decade, the magnitude of this number is very small compared to India’s total food energy consumption.  For instance, in 2007 the total net animal-derived food energy exports (a combination of butter, meat, and seafood) of 8 PJ only amounts to 0.14 percent of the 5780 PJ of total food energy consumed in that year.  This amount is about 5-times less than China’s animal-derived food energy imports in 2007 (-41 PJ).

The periods in the 1960 and 70, when there was a significant increase in animal-derived food energy exports (mostly animal fats), corresponds to the previously discussed periods of famine and drought.

India’s Production, Consumption and Import/Exports on a Global Scale

Figure 15 shows India’s food energy net production, consumption, and net exports, as well as population, all as a percentage of their respective global counterpart amounts (which I derived in a previous series of posts). 

The black line and x’s show that since at least 1961, India’s population has steadily grown from 15% to 18% percent of the world’s population, with only slight signs of a declining growth rate as discussed above in the context of Figures 1 and 2. 

Since India’s population growth rate remains positive and is declining very slowly, I expect India’s population to exceed that of China’s by the early to mid 2020s, at which point, India will probably have about 20% of the world’s population, and still growing. 

In comparison, for the last 20 years, India’s food energy production and food energy consumption have stayed at about 10% of the world’s food energy production and consumption, and in earlier periods, stayed in a range of 8 to 10%.  India’s biggest drawing into the global food export market occurred in 1967, the time of the Bihar Famine, when it imported about 5% of the total amount of food energy exported world-wide in that year.

This contrasts with China’s steady increase in its proportion of global food energy, up to nearly about its same proportion of the global population (20% in 2007), and, China’s increasing reliance on food energy imports (8% of total food energy exports in 2007).

Components of China’s domestic food energy consumption compared to global counterparts

Figure 16 shows the major categories of the China’s food energy consumption, expressed as a percentage of their global counterparts. 

For reference, total domestic consumption (solid red circles and line “% global domestic supply”) is the same as the red line presented in Figure 15, and, I again show the population as percentage of global population (black line).

The relative amounts of food energy consumption directed to all of these items of domestic consumption: the human food supply, seed and feed, processed food and other uses of food, are all less than the proportion of India’s population relative to the world population.  Only human energy consumption, 13.5 to 14.7% of the global food energy consumption, comes close to equaling India’s 15% to 18% percent of the world’s population, throughout the data period.

In other words, relative to global trends, India has been a long time under-consumer of food energy in comparison to its population.

Figure 17 depicts India’s human food energy consumption of plant and animal food energy relative to the counterpart world human food energy consumption amounts. 

Again, for reference, I repeat the depictions of percentages of the total human food supply (same as the pink line presented in Figure 16), and population (black line and x’s), relative to their respective global counterparts. 

Throughout the data period, the relative amount plant-derived food (blue circles) for human consumption is at, or a few percent below, India’s proportion of the global population.  It is the animal-derived food for human consumption (green circles and line) that is far below India’s proportion of the global population, being less than 5% from 1961 to 1984, and only rising to 7.3% by 2007.

Summary and Conclusions

India’s annual food energy production rate has increased 3.2 times from 1961 to 2007 (Figure 1).  That’s larger than the USA’s 2.4 time increase in food production, but, lower than China’s 4.7 times increase in food production, over the same period. 

India’s food production increase is likely due to it own petroleum-driven green food revolution, instituted by its 5-year plans in the 1960s and 70s.  Accordingly, from 1965 to 2007, India’s per capita petroleum consumption has increased 5.4 times (see Trends in Indian Petroleum Production, Consumption and Imports, hereafter “Trends”). 

Unlike China, India depends very little on food imports: as of 2007, India’s food imports are very small relative to its domestic production and consumption (Figure 9).  This reflects India’s long term plan to have agricultural self-reliance.  Some might argue that just because India doesn’t import food, and therefore rely of foreign grown food, it has succeeded in it's goal of self-reliance.  This, however, would ignore the fact that India continues to have a very high Global Hunger Index, corresponding to a ranking of “extremely alarming” hunger (see “Trends”).  We also shouldn’t ignore the fact that while India may be self-sufficient in food, it is not self-sufficient in petroleum.

How long can India continue to remain self-reliant in the coming decades, as its population continues to increase at an estimated rate of 1.6 to 1.5% per year (Figure 3)?  I see no significant trend for India’s rate of increase in food production to be in decline (Figures 2-3), and indeed, there are reports that 2010-11 was a record year in food production, apparently after a down year in production in 2009-10 (Record food production in 2010-11). 

Still, I believe that continued long-term growth in food production in India will require on continued growth in petroleum consumption.  But, growth in petroleum consumption will depend on increasing rates of petroleum imports, which as I pointed out in “Trends”, this will likely be a problem for India and other petroleum importers, such as China.

Additionally, there are some recent signs that continued growth in food production maybe be facing limitations due to inadequate growth in electricity supplies. For instance, India’s heavy reliance on electricity, produced from coal-fired power plants that supply 50% of its total capacity, clearly can’t meet demand, due in part, to inadequate coal supplies (Power Problems Threaten Growth in India).  Low water reservoir levels have also caused a decrease in hydro-electric power generation (Government gropes in dark over power crisis).  The consequent periodic rolling blackouts have shut down irrigation systems, which in turn, will likely limit food production.  The possibility that electricity subsidies given to farmers by state-run electricity-distribution system will have to be reduced, will also limit food production.  The inadequate electricity supplies have contributed to a scarcity of diesel fuel (Diesel crunch cripples industry), which of course, is a key a fuel needed to support modern agricultural practices. 

So long as it can import increasing amounts of petroleum and grow its capacity to generate more electricity, it may be possible for India to continue to grow its food production.  However, food production increases will likely end if, or when, India starts to see petroleum and electricity consumption peaking due to inadequate imports or domestic supplies. 


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