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Symposium 2009

Solution for Bioenergy and Land Use in Developing Countries

The Challenge

Food security and promoting modern uses of biomass as a source of energy are two key goals in developing countries. Are these conflicting interests impossible to reconcile or two ends of a common st ...

Food security and promoting modern uses of biomass as a source of energy are two key goals in developing countries. Are these conflicting interests impossible to reconcile or two ends of a common strategy?

Biomass is the most important source of energy in many developing countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa.

Start a “new green revolution” in the least developed countries by promoting the uptake of modern agricultural technologies, best practice procedures and the associated skills; development aid should focus on such agricultural development and the necessary finance.

A crucial prerequisite for improving bioenergy and land use in developing countries is higher investment in the agricultural sector to increase  productivity and to raise the uptake of modern technologies, best practice procedures, and the associated skills. In other words, there needs to be a sequence of green revolutions, especially in the least developed countries.

This would enable developing countries to amplify their agricultural production significantly, and thus would contribute to food security as well as enhanced use of biomass for energy. As such, a virtuous cycle could be established, since sufficient energy supply and food security are essential for further economic development.

Getting there requires foreign direct investment (FDI) in the agricultural sector closely engaged with local communities. Development aid should also refocus on agricultural development. Technology transfer would also be beneficial, both from the developed world and “South-South” (for example, from Brazil with its longest history of ethanol production).

To foster production of and trade in biomass, the harmonization of technology and fuel standards is important as well as a reduction in trade barriers. Currently, a lack of finance prevents large productivity jumps. It is important to not reduce efforts even further as a consequence of the financial crisis.

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    Investment in bioenergy production in developing countries must integrate local farmers closely.

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