To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

April 17, 2008

Project seeks methods to determine best biofuel crop areas

Indonesia is probably the worst place in the world to grow biofuel crops, according to David Lobell, who is part of a project to determine good and bad places in the world to grow fuel crops.

"There are meters and meters of carbon in tropical peat lands," said Lobell, a senior research scholar at the Woods Institute on the Stanford University campus. Cutting down these old tropical forests for agricultural land would release a massive amount of carbon into the atmosphere. Conceivably, it could take a few hundred years of biofuel consumption to displace the carbon released in land clearance.

"Pretty much everywhere is better," he said.

The three-year project goes to the heart of the pressing food versus fuel debate. The U.S., Brazil, and some European nations are trying to encourage drivers to switch to biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel that emit fewer greenhouse gases. Those fuels right now, however, are typically made from food crops like corn, sugar, and soybeans, and converting food into gas is contributing to rising food prices. Other factors--rising food consumption in China, droughts, crop diseases--are contributing to the problem, too, but experts say biofuel production has definitely exacerbated the situation.

Food riots continue to rage in Egypt, Haiti, Cameroon, and other emerging nations. The International Monetary fund earlier this week encouraged developed nations to put together programs that could help alleviate the situation and warned that further famine and poverty could occur if nothing is accomplished.

Ideally, biofuels could be grown out of non-food crops on land that's not as suitable or productive as farmland and won't release much carbon into the atmosphere when cultivation begins.

Is anywhere good? Semi-arid areas of India could work well, Lobell said. Jatropha, an oily seed that isn't fit for human consumption, grows in those regions and can be converted into diesel.

There is also a good possibility of growing fuel crops in CRP, or Conservation Reserve Program, lands in the U.S. These are the acres that the federal government pays farmers not to cultivate. Unfortunately, the amount of CRP land is actually somewhat small from a global perspective and might have only a marginal effect on fuel supplies.

While the project will go on for three years, Lobell says some preliminary data may emerge this fall.

CNet


Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP