Biofuels: living up to expectations?

Jatropha, MozambiqueHave biofuel projects taken off as expected? A report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) looks at the situation in five countries which were seen as key destinations for the industry – and what effects the developments may have on local food security.

The authors, Anna Locke and Giles Henley, are participants in our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

Following the rise in oil prices in 2007-2008, interest in biofuels led to the acquisition of large tracts of land in developing countries, including in Africa. There is concern that local food security may be threatened, but others argue that biofuel demand could stimulate investment in agriculture.

The report covers Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. In general, the authors find that only a small proportion of the land authorised by the government in the four African countries has been cultivated for biofuels.

This publication is one of the outputs of Shockwatch – Food Prices, a wider ODI project exploring the future of food prices and what can be done to reduce and stabilise them.

Image: Jatropha curcus – the biofuel plant by tonrulkens on Flickr (creative commons)