Notes to broadcasters on agrofuels :

    | September 6, 2010

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    Friends of the Earth define agrofuels (in contrast to biofuels) as “… the liquid fuels derived from food and oil crops produced in large-scale plantation-style industrial production systems. These agrofuels are blended with petrol and diesel for use primarily as transport fuel. Biofuels on the other hand, refer to the small-scale use of local biomass for fuel.” The word agrofuels is used by some NGOs to highlight the fact that the fuels are produced from agricultural crops. A short note on agrofuels can be read here.

    The Friends of the Earth report can be downloaded here.

    Here is a newspaper article discussing the report.

    In June and July 2009, Farm Radio Weekly ran a series of stories on land grabs and biofuels. There are many resources in our archives. Here, for example, is an overview.

    As part of the series, Farm Radio Weekly reported on the case from northern Ghana mentioned in the Friends of the Earth report, in which a chief was not able to read a contract before he signed it with a thumbprint.

    Please also refer to a previous Notes to broadcasters here, where you can find references to Farm Radio International scripts and news stories:

    On farmland grabbing;

    On biofuels and land grabbing;

    On land grabbing.

    An ongoing database of articles on land grabbing is maintained here.

    This is a hot topic and might make a lively debate program. You could consider organizing a text-in show for rural communities to have their say in this debate:

    -Are farmers aware of land in their region being used for agrofuels by foreign companies? What do they think about this situation? How can they benefit? What are the drawbacks for them?

    -Should their land be leased to outside investors? If not, why not? If yes, why? Would listeners prefer other forms of economic development or support from the government? What would they suggest instead?

    -Do listeners have experience working with foreign companies on agrofuels? What are their stories?

    -How can growing fuel crops affect the environment? Are the effects positive or negative? How?