Tanzania has big biofuel potential: FAO study

17:21, July 13, 2010      

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A huge potential for producing biofuels is expected in Tanzania without hampering the cultivation of food crops, according to a new study.

Conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently, the study observed that the country's land is highly suitable for cultivation of the cassava crop from which ethanol could be produced without affecting food security, the local media reported on Monday.

The cassava-based ethanol schemes, linked to out-growers, would be a viable option for biofuel development that could lead to economic growth and poverty reduction in the country, the report said.

However, the concern is whether cassava production could be scaled up from an agronomic point of view, to ensure large-scale production was viable and diseases were controlled, it added.

Increased public spending to address low yields in the agricultural sector are vital to avoid any potential competition with biofuels materializing, the report said.

The production of biofuels from cassava would allow participation of smallholder farmers, which underscores the need for investment in agriculture and agricultural research and development, it added.

The report notes that biofuels and agricultural markets in Tanzania are sensitive to changes in government biofuels policies, pointing out that there is no national-level trade-off between biofuels and food production, but that there could be a trade-off between biofuels expansion and traditional export crops.

The dividends from investing in biofuels can have positive impacts on poverty reduction and growth, the analysis suggests, assuming that there are public investments to support biofuels development.

The study on Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) was aimed to support the development of bioenergy policies that are aligned with the country's poverty reduction and food security strategies, according to the report.

Source: Xinhua


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