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Will the growing demand for biofuels lead to food crisis?
Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD); Bunda College of Agriculture (University of Malawi); Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis network (FANRPAN)
27 November 2007
Charles BL Jumbe
Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD); Bunda College of Agriculture (University of Malawi); Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis network (FANRPAN)


What is "fuel vs. food" debate about?

The effects of moving "TOO FAST" and the cost of "INACTION"

  • Brazil has set targets that all diesel contain 2% biodiesel by 2008 & 5% by 2013


  • America has an aggressive scheme to replace 15% of the petrol-powered cars with "green-fuel" vehicles
    • AIM: By 2020, to reduce petrol consumption by 20%

  • The EU Directive sets a 5.75% biofuels share in all transport fuel by 2010


  • ASIA-China, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia & India have also set mandatory blending targets


  • AFRICA A little slow & sceptical??
    • A few countries have mandatory targets (South Africa, Malawi)
Moving too fast: Implications

  • Across the US, 20% of the whole maize crop went to ethanol in 2006,
    • BUT contributed only 2% of automobile fuel use

  • An extra 80 mn. acres (36 mn ha) of land will be required if maize ethanol alone will be used to meet the US target
    • Eliminating gasoline use entirely in USA will require doubling the current 450 mn. acres (200 mn ha) of available for crop production- making it infeasible!
    • China will need 22.7 mn. metric tonnes of biofuels to blend 10% biofuel into all Chinese cars by 2020
    • Japan will need 6 bn. litres of ethanol every year to meet the blend ratio of only 3% biofuels
    • EU Directive - about 18.6 mn. tons of oil equivalent of biofuels will be required to meet the 5.75 target
    • The big question: How will these targets achieved?
      • Africa?

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