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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Biofuels, food security, and Africa
Authors:Molony, ThomasISNI
Smith, JamesISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Geographic term:Africa
food security
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40783713
Abstract:A growing number of African countries have now enacted new, pro-biofuel national strategies, among them Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This briefing discusses the relationship between biofuels and food security in Africa, and brings in related issues concerning land ownership and livelihoods. The domestic opportunities that biofuels offer, with potential benefits in the form of employment, skills development and the nurturing of secondary industries, come with trade-offs. Some wealthy countries are now rapidly acquiring vast tracts of agricultural land in poorer nations, especially in Africa, to grow biofuels and food for their own consumption. These 'land grabs' can further marginalize the rural poor who rely on land for their livelihoods. The rising demand for biofuels has also sparked a debate over the threat that energy security poses to food security. Three main, interrelated themes dominate the 'food-versus-fuel' debate: there may be less food available to eat because crops that would otherwise be used for human consumption are being diverted for processing into biofuels; demand for biofuels has increased competition for land and water resources that would otherwise be used for cultivating edible crops; and more production of biofuels will force food prices up and make it more difficult for poor people to purchase food. While the impact of biofuels on food availability and price increases is difficult to disaggregate from a wide range of other temporary and longer-term factors, what is certain is that biofuels production is a 'new' factor impacting on world food prices. Increasing world food prices globally will certainly also have the largest negative impact in Africa. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]