Nelly Bassily | June 15, 2009
The concept of commercial biofuel production in developing countries has always evoked concerns about its potential impact on food security. In the past few years, many stories have emerged about large-scale biofuel plantations displacing food crops. As this week’s story from Malawi illustrates, it is often small-scale farmers who lose control of their land, and their livelihood.
The following Farm Radio International stories and scripts look at how different communities have considered the question of biofuels:
-Africa: “ Jatropha – An enlightening crop, but not a miracle” (FRW#64, May 2009)
-Africa: “South Africa’s president says biofuel crops must not crowd out food” (FRW#42, November 2008)
-Burkina Faso: “Burkinabe farmers say food comes before fuel” (FRW#34, August 2008)
-Kenya: “Herders oppose controversial sugarcane project” (FRW#29, July 2008)
-Mali: “Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain cautious” (FRW#7, January 2008)
-Africa: “The promise and potential perils of biofuels” (FRW#3, December 2007)
–Jatropha – Not Just a BioFuel Crop! (Package 80, Script 7, March 2007)
–Women are actively involved in planting jatropha in Malian village (Package 87, Script 4, April 2009)
These articles discuss other examples of biofuel production and debate both its benefits and its impact on food security:
– Biofuel Revolution Threatens Food Security for the Poor (SciDev.Net): http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=2&item=Opinions&itemid=692&language=1.
-Biofuels – Benefits and Risks for Developing Countries (SciDev.Net): http://allafrica.com/stories/200712061079.html.
-Biofuels Watch: African Land-Grab Deals Questioned (Solve Climate):
-Biofuels, Opportunity or Threat to the Poor? (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation): http://www.deza.admin.ch/ressources/resource_en_159527.pdf
If you would like to research a local story on biofuel production and determine who in your community might benefit from biofuels, you may wish to ask some of the following questions:
-Do farmers in your area currently produce biofuels for use on their farms or in the community? If so, who processes the fuel?
-Who benefits from the production and availability of local biofuels?
-If an external company plans to open a biofuel processing plant in your area, how do farmers plan to maintain their food security while also producing crops for the plant?
-If there is already a biofuel processing plant in your area, are small-scale farmers contributing to production? How do they rate their experiences in working with the processing plant (e.g. support for proper harvesting and storage, prices for crops, etc.)?