Bioenergy and Rural Development

Cindy Zimmerman

FAO Top international experts meeting in Rome last week agreed that bioenergy could be a positive force for rural development

According to a news release from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) it was the first time that experts in bioenergy, food security and the environment came together to discuss the environmental and food security impact of the rapidly-expanding bioenergy industry.

Alexander Müller, head of FAO’s Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, said, ‘While there is legitimate concern among some groups that bioenergy could compromise food security and cause environmental damage, it can also be an important tool for improving the well-being of rural people if governments take into account environmental and food security concerns.”

During the meeting, Luiz Augusto Horta Nogueira is Professor at the ‘Universidade Federal de Itajubá’, Brazil said some crops are more productive than others when it comes to making ethanol and biodiesel.

“The conflict between food and fuel should be evaluated under this point of view,” he said. “If you are considering the good options you have in wet, tropical countries this conflict is not so serious.” He says that sugarcane for ethanol and palm oil for biodiesel are more efficient than corn and soybeans.

Listen to interview here: Listen To MP3 FAO Energy 1 (2 min MP3)

Seth Shames, Policy Program Manager of the Washington-based Ecoagriculture Partners says bioenergy could have great benefits for small farmers in countries such as Africa and Central America.

“We’re excited about potentials for growing biofuel crops, trees or even perennial grasses in the future, which could be used by small farmers for their own energy needs to integrate in the food landscape also so they don’t have to make this trade-off and also increases livelihood options for them,” he said.

Listen to interview here: Listen To MP3 FAO Energy (2 min MP3)

Audio, Biodiesel, conferences, Energy, Ethanol, International