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March 20, 2008

Biofuels potential in East Africa is questionable

I wish to take issue with your editorial (Daily Nation March 11, 2008) on the potential for biofuel in East Africa.

It was misleading to state, “we have the land and the climate”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The large areas of empty land are semi-arid or arid, while the sunny climate is only suitable to bronze tourists and the occasional rain produces a few weeks poor grazing per year.

Brazil is often cited as the example for its biofuel production, but it is fortunate in having large areas of arable land with reliable rainfall and can produce high yields of sugar efficiently. No similar possibility exists in Kenya, but the alternative use of semi-arid areas to grow jatropha trees and process the oil into biodiesel is regularly proposed and is being implemented on a limited scale.

The news of a new investment in unproven technologies may make good headlines but so often that is all that is heard of the project.

Naro Moru

The Daily Nation

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