Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the National Farmers' Union

  1.  The National Farmers' Union represents the interests of some 55,000 businesses which are engaged in a diverse range of agricultural, horticultural and related activities throughout England and Wales. We welcome the opportunity to present our views on The Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry—Are Biofuels Sustainable?

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  Pursued in the correct manner, biofuels can lead to a number of positive social, environmental and economic benefits. The NFU believe that to ensure these benefits are captured, and in order to minimise potentially negative consequences, the industry should indeed be regulated. In so doing however, care should be taken to ensure regulation is simple, working within existing structures wherever possible, transparent, comprehensible and based on proven science. This is the only way to ensure real carbon savings are achieved, with effective safeguards implemented to ensure minimum sustainability standards are met. In this regard it should be recognised that the UK is leading the way, setting high standards for biofuel production with incentives for further improvement over time. However, there is a danger that the standards are set too high and inadvertently stymie the growth of the industry; above all therefore, it is imperative that regulation is based on realism, particularly at the outset. Furthermore, clear long-term targets are imperative to encourage investment into the industry.

  The UK's farm assurance schemes will ensure that domestically supplied feedstock will meet stringent sustainability standards. Applying these standards to imported biofuel/feedstock will only provide the incentive for international reporting and improvement in sustainability standards further a field if they are taken up by other countries. Otherwise we run the risk of "pricing" ourselves out of the market to no benefit. It is therefore imperative that carbon and sustainability standards are adopted across the EU.

  The UK biofuels industry will only benefit from the kind of impressive efficiency gains experienced by Brazil and the US as the industry progresses. Once established, increased investment into R&D will ensure improvements in both producer and processing efficiency. The development of second generation biofuels on a commercially viable scale is several years away we are told, but the potential to extract significantly larger volumes of fuel per hectare of land is vast. There are several reasons why we should progress with current technology in the meantime. Biofuels currently provides the only practical and viable method of addressing the environmental impact of the road transport sector.

  Diversion of the UK's average wheat export levels to a domestic biofuels industry could go as far as meeting half the 5% RTFO target in 2010-11. In addition, use of set-aside land and technological advances that can be expected as the industry gets up and running will ensure that UK feedstock can go even further to meeting the targets set under the RTFO. The NFU accept that imported feedstock will play an important role in meeting targets, and by diversifying our sources of energy supply, a globally developed biofuels industry will help spread supply risk and thereby improve the UK's fuel security.

  A combination of export diversion, the use of idle agricultural capacity, improvements in the efficiency of land use and imported feedstock will ensure that UK food production will not be affected by a domestic biofuel industry. Even a scenario whereby UK agriculture has reached resource and productive capacity, market forces will ensure that food production remains paramount. The point about idle agricultural capacity applies globally too; potential export diversion by major feedstock producers/exporters will introduce an upward price pressure, bringing hitherto economically unviable land back into economic production. As long as there is spare capacity for an expansion in agricultural production, international food security will not be affected and in theory should well improve as poorer countries move away from over-reliance on aid towards becoming more self-sufficient. There may also be opportunities for developing countries to improve fuel security and develop export potential, all of which will lead to a reduction in poverty.

  As for price, any upward price movement will, all things being equal, lead to an increase in output according to the traditional cyclical and correlated price-production relationship. Effectively, this will ensure that prices, to a certain degree, will automatically self-correct as market supply catches up to increasing demand, preventing prices spiralling out of control. Again, there is vast resource capacity to increase feedstock production to ensure supply keeps pace with demand.

  A biofuels industry can quite uniquely play a positive role in a number of different policy areas. However, only a well developed and managed industry will ensure that such benefits, in the areas of agriculture, rural development, the environment, international development and energy are achieved.

What are the possible positive and negative social, environmental and economic consequences of biofuels? How might trade-offs between climate benefits and environmental and social impacts be made? Is there a need to develop a new biofuel strategy for the UK or EU, to balance the environmental, social, economic and climate impacts of biofuels?

  1.  A number of key factors in support of biofuels are valid, including the ever present pressure to act in mitigating climate change. Biofuels are the most immediate, practical and available means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from road transport fuel—an area that continues to rise. Security of supply is high on the energy agenda for many European governments, and volatile prices for fossil fuels reinforces the need to pursue a more diverse energy supply, of which biofuels can form a significant contribution. Using renewable biomass materials to produce fuel lends itself to agriculture with potential rural development benefits from diversification of markets.

  2.  Land management in the UK is highly regulated with controls over change of use between permanent pasture or woodland and arable farming, along with social and environmental legislation. This is backed up within the EU support scheme (SPS) for agriculture with cross-compliance measures linking a number of statutory and additional standards to financial penalties to if not adhered to by farmers. Members of the combinable crop assurance schemes in England and Wales are also obliged to engage fully with the Voluntary Initiative, which helps to ensure protection of crops and the environment. Modern farmers are acutely aware of their environmental footprint and more than 50% of farms in England with over 7.5 million ha of land are now covered by targeted agri-environment schemes in the UK.

  3.  The European Environment Agency estimates that to meet current energy targets the EU needs 150 million tonnes oil equivalent (Mtoe) from biomass by 2010. On very conservative estimates Europe's potential environmentally sustainable production is 190 Mtoe in 2010, rising to 295 Mtoe by 2030. The UK is one of seven countries where the potential is greatest (with Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania & Poland).

  4.  The term biofuels covers a wide range of renewable fuels of varying sustainability and environmental performance. There is a very real danger of biofuel production causing environmental damage elsewhere in the world through the destruction of rain forest and other natural habitat to make way for crops like palm oil and sugar cane. However, NFU believes this is an avoidable danger. Proportionate regulation is needed to ensure production of feedstocks for biofuels does not lead to negative consequences for the environment. This underlines the importance of a practical and credible sustainability reporting system.

  5.  The NFU shares the belief of Friends of the Earth that the answer is a certification standard, covering both imported and home-produced biofuels. In January, FoE's Tony Juniper commented in the Guardian newspaper that: "If we are to reap the benefits of biofuels, we need some environmental safeguards, such as protection for important ecosystems . . . it seems to me that a certification scheme is needed."

  6.  Work on this is already well under way. Since the DfT's Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) is largely driven by environmental concerns, the biofuels industry with NGOs is in the process of establishing and participating in new standards for international commodity trade, such as the sustainability criteria underpinning the RTFO in the UK. By "raising the bar" for standards of production for renewable natural resources, it is hoped that biofuels will become a major driver for sustainable development, where other aspects of global trade have so far failed.

  7.  There are many potential benefits for developing countries which have large areas of productive land currently lying idle as agricultural commodity prices have remained economically unsustainable. Expanded markets for bioenergy should re-introduce tension into the market and lift prices back to a level where production becomes economic on a wider range of land with more extensive production systems.

  8.  Wide stakeholder engagement in the UK is now bringing about a new biofuel strategy, leading actions in development among other Member States in the EU. Our main strategy must be to provide strong support and incentives to develop sufficient biofuels in both UK and EU. These strategies have been developed intensively over the past two years with due environmental, social and economic consideration. Initial development of biofuels could be hampered by overly strict regulations brought in as safeguards to perceived incidental outcomes. Such regulations should be proportionate and address only the key concerns. Further tighter regulations should be assessed in response to any genuine issues that develop.

Should biofuels be regulated to minimise the negative environmental and social impacts, and in what way? How might regulation fit in with international trade agreements and rules? Should there be regulation of the entire carbon cycle of biofuels?

  9.  Biofuels should be regulated but it is imperative that such regulations recognise existing trading practices and work within international trade rules without displacing production and potential environmental damage elsewhere. These Regulations must be based on proven science that can be defended against trade challenges with an even application of common standards that are implemented to ensure sustainable and carbon-efficient production. At the same time Biofuels should be regulated in a comprehensible and transparent manner to ensure that theoretical carbon savings are achieved in practice and incentives are in place to improve efficiency. Sustainability controls are critical in ensuring that production of feedstocks destined for biofuels is not reliant on unsustainable practices.

  10.  The food industry has been largely unregulated with respect to carbon savings and sustainability, with the notable exception of EU agriculture and in particular UK environmental legislation. Currently the overwhelming majority of palm oil goes into food use, so restricting further development of biofuels would not solve the problem of deforestation—this issue is much bigger and requires independent measures.

  11.  Use of biofuel in the UK would widen the reach of the high standards in place for those producing feedstocks here, by raising the sustainability criteria for imported material to an equivalent level. However, any new regulation needs to be implemented over time. A lot of the proposed issues have not been recorded before and will take time to develop efficient and trusted systems.

  12.  Currently the main risk is that the UK's opportunity to influence this new industry will be lost. Where the bar is set too high, investment will not be made in domestic processing facilities and the UK will be unable to influence sustainability standards internationally.

  13.  Clear long term signals are a pre-requisite as significant private investment is needed to supply the required fuel, particularly in terms of market certainty. Any biofuel strategy must take account of and fully integrate with other bioenergy and renewable energy policy.

How successful are existing international structures, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, at ensuring that imports of biofuels can be obtained from sustainable sources? To what extent is it currently possible to identify the provenance and production standards of imported biofuels?

  14.  Current reporting structures are variable in terms of quality and uptake but the need to report on sustainability of biofuels is driving the process forward. Reporting on these issues is new and it will take time not only to develop effective schemes that will address all the issues but to gain sufficient uptake that will start to address any displacement concerns.

  15.  Globally, reporting and assurance systems that specifically cover carbon and sustainability are in the early stages of development. Palm oil, soybean and sugar cane schemes are admittedly showing slow uptake but this is likely to be driven further by the desire to meet biofuel sustainability reporting demands in UK and potentially other EU MS also with schemes under development. Standards in place for the UK alone may not provide a strong enough market "pull" to effect this change.

  16.  In the UK, the most recent standards under the Assured Food Standards (AFS) Assured Combinable Crops Scheme (ACCS) are believed likely to meet the stringent sustainability criteria within the UK RTFO, beginning in 2008.

  17.  Default values for carbon savings are valuable in providing a baseline but in order achieve significant progress from the baseline real data is required to be collected. It will take time to develop the means of doing so in a cost effective way. Use of defaults initially is not a justification to undermine the whole system.

  18.  NFU shares the belief that an emphasis on support for biofuels that can prove sustainability rather than specific targets for carbon saving will be the fastest way to bring in universal environmental standards in biofuels.

At what stage is biofuel technology? Is there enough support for the development of biofuel technology? A UN report found that the climate change benefits of solid biomass fuels outweigh those of liquid biofuels. Are current policies promoting the development and deployment of a range of biofuel technologies? How successful have EU strategies and Directives been in stimulating biofuel usage? Will the 2010 biofuel target be reached? How effective are the Government's fiscal arrangements for biofuels?

  19.  Biofuel technology will make the most important progress through experience gathered from the developing industry. Efficiency gains have been impressive in those countries with a history of converting renewable feedstocks to biofuels such as Brazil and the USA.

  20.  There is and will be a continued need for funding for R&D to help bring through new technology and advanced biofuels. Continued improvement through practical experience and investment in the industry will be the most effective way to develop even more efficient biofuels.

  21.  Second generation biofuels is still several years away from being commercially viable and that we should therefore continue to implement current technology that should provide a greater impetus for a second generation of development. Parallel can be drawn with the internal combustion engine, which did not take over from animal and steam power in a day.

  22.  Solid biomass used for heat and power generation is indeed more efficient in terms of carbon-reduction than current liquid transport biofuel technology. A major factor behind this apparent difference in efficiency is the need to use annual crops and produce transport biofuel from part of the crop, while using another substantial fraction for quality animal feed, rather than utilising all biomass produced for energy generation. Data on carbon savings for animal feed use and displacement is scant. It seems likely that future technology will improve efficiency of biofuels and may introduce economic production that can utilise all biomass for energy generation. However at present, and in the near future, biofuels derived from annual crops are the only economically viable renewable alternative to liquid transport fuels. With this being the only sector with continued rising carbon emissions, biofuels from annual crops must be used as a key part of addressing carbon emissions in the road transport sector.

Targets

  23.  The latest figures available suggest that this target will not be met by the EU as a whole. Certain Member States will achieve 5.75% by 2010 (and indeed some are on course to exceed it) but many will clearly not meet this target. Many Member States have set targets well below EU indicative targets (2% by 2005, 5.75% 2010) and do not have in place sufficient policy incentives to achieve them. UK is a good example of a MS setting a low target at just 0.3% (2005) and relying on an obligation of 5% (by volume) by 2010 that equates to approximately 3.7% by energy. This will not deliver 5.75% by energy by 2010.

  24.  There are a number of factors currently favouring biofuel developments in the UK. These include the need to reduce greenhouse gases to tackle climate change commitments, continuing growth of transport emissions, a historically high price for fossil fuels which is subject to substantial volatility, security concerns over fossil fuel supply, particularly the EU diesel production shortfall. In response there is a strengthening EU policy and indicative targets for biofuel use and CAP reform decoupling providing greater freedom to produce for the market.

  25.  Some of the main obstacles to making progress in the sector are commercial and include the cost of production for biofuels, the cost of investment required for biofuel plants and need for certainty in the market for the long term, some reluctance from oil majors to include biofuels particularly where they are vertically integrated and do not wish to buy fuels in. On a technical basis, biofuel inclusion limits in existing EU fuel standards are currently limited to—5% bioethanol, 5% biodiesel inclusion, but this is under review, and there can be blending difficulties associated with bioethanol (high vapour pressure & water absorbency).

  26.  While the actual impact of the combined 35ppl RTFO package is yet to be determined, the important thing to note is that the relative viability of biofuel production is changing constantly with changes in oil and feedstock prices/costs. It is imperative therefore that the Government consistently monitors the effectiveness of current fiscal arrangements and is prepared to make adjustments that will maintain the incentive for oil suppliers to blend biofuels rather than "buy-out".

The EU Strategy for Biofuels claims that biofuels "are a direct substitute for fossil fuels in transport and can readily be integrated into fuel supply systems". What proportion of UK domestic transport and energy generation could be fuelled by UK-produced biofuels? Is it possible for biofuels to entirely replace oil for transport purposes? Is there a role for public procurement or public transport? Will biofuels improve fuel security? How secure are biofuel crops from unexpected events such as drought or disease?

  27.  5% of transport fuel could be met through UK produced biofuels with current technology, yields and processing efficiency. Over the 2003-05 period, UK wheat exports have averaged 2.8 million tonnes. This would suffice to produce 1.2 billion litres of bio-ethanol, equivalent to 5% of future estimated petrol demand. Bioethanol can also be produced from out of quota sugar production. Prior to the reform of the EU sugar regime, average UK "C" beet production was 1.4 million tonnes, enough to produce a further 144 million litres of bioethanol. Much of Britain's farmland has been under used and could be growing renewable fuel. Set-aside land accounted for 513,000 hectares in 2006 and bare fallow land amounted to 150,000 hectares in 2006. Where set-aside has been reduced to zero for one year in 2007-08 this under used capacity represents great potential for the UK to use some of this land to increase biofuel production and move towards meeting RTFO targets from domestic feedstock.

  28.  EU calculations suggest an 11% biofuels contribution is possible by 2020. As technology advances, the biofuel yield from land will increase and greater proportion of UK transport fuel demand becomes possible. Meanwhile, 5% as a start is a significant contribution, and this can be achieved within current agricultural capacity. The alternative of waiting for the perfect solution while road transport emissions continue to rise misses years of potential mitigation of CO2 release.

  29.  New bioenergy crops or production systems have potential to strengthen farming approaches that better preserve soil and water resources. There is room to evaluate trade-offs and win-win situations that exist between energy policy targets and EU environmental objectives.

  30.  In practice, UK conditions offer some of the world's highest, most secure, reliable and consistent yields of starch and oil from combinable crops. We realise that biofuels will not be able to totally supply UK demand for transport fuels and energy but will have a major part to play in a package of secure, renewable and sustainable energy production in the short to medium term where few alternatives exist.

  31.  The UK needs to make full use of the raw material that UK can provide—this requires a range of technologies many of which can draw significant synergies. Isolated thinking and disputes between rival technologies have done little to take forward a progressive strategy. One of the important factors of a secure energy supply is diversity. Over-reliance on one technology, source or supplier is a dangerous route to take.

  32.  First-generation biofuels provide an excellent buffer for food crops—they can be easily switched into food production if necessary as a result of unexpected events.

  33.  This means biofuels are unlikely to have more than minimal impact on food markets as domestic food production will always be the major market for UK producers. A scenario where UK devotes the majority of its production capacity to biofuels, ignoring food production and leaving the country to import the majority of its food is simply not going to happen. Market forces will dictate and the food market will always be king. Domestic processing of feedstock to make biofuel in the UK offers at least an equivalent volume of high quality animal feed co-product. If the feedstock was not processed in the UK, it would continue to be exported and this co product would not be available domestically as an animal feed.

Is there a role for public procurement or public transport?

  34.  Transport operators including Virgin Trains and Tesco distribution, and bus operators from Stockholm to Reading and London have operated vehicles on blends of biofuels up to 95%. Somerset County Council and a number of public utilities and services in the South West region are using high-blend (E85) bioethanol cars.

Will biofuels improve fuel security?

  35.  The UK's dwindling indigenous energy production has meant a return to net importer status in recent years. Between 1981-2003 the UK was a net importer of energy in only four years (1989-92 inclusive), otherwise exporting up to 50 million tonnes oil equivalent (Mtoe) of energy per annum. Since 2004 however, the UK's net energy imports have risen dramatically to 52.5 Mtoe, a dependency ratio of 21%. Forecasts suggest the UK will continue to become more reliant on imported energy as time progresses. According to official ONS data, the UK has approximately 13 years of oil reserves left and 11 years of gas reserves (from 2005).

  36.  The advantage of biofuels over fossil-based transport fuels, from a fuel security point of view, is two-fold. As a renewable source of energy, biofuels can be produced almost anywhere in the world where agricultural production is already established. This gives the UK a chance to establish an indigenous industry that will relieve dependence on imported transport fuels, albeit to a limited extent. Furthermore, as the global industry develops, the UK will have an increasing number of potential trade partners from whom to source imported biofuels. The opportunity to diversify supply sources and thereby spread supply risk undoubtedly increases the UK's fuel security.

What impact would an expansion of UK production of biofuels have on the ability of the UK to produce its own food? How might this impact on greenhouse gas emissions from international trade patterns? What impact might the expansion of biofuels have on international food security and prices?

  37.  The impact of a developing biofuels industry on the UK's indigenous food production should be minimal. Firstly, it is important to note, as we have done previously, that the UK is traditionally a net exporter of wheat, the primary feedstock for bioethanol production. As described above, the UK's average wheat exports, if diverted to domestic bioethanol production, could go as far as meeting half the RTFO obligation in 2010-11. Export diversion will of course have no impact on the UK's food security or self-sufficiency.

  38.  Secondly, the UK has spare agricultural capacity to increase feedstock production to meet growing demand for biofuel production (or food, depending on prevailing market conditions). The Commission's announcement to reduce set-aside to 0% next year will bring 513 thousand hectares back into potential agricultural production. The EU is committed to abolishing the set-aside principle entirely in the medium term. Furthermore, as the biofuel industry develops, investment into research and development will almost certainly ensure production and processing efficiency gains that ensure we are able to extract more energy from each hectare of land.

  39.  Thirdly, the NFU accepts that a domestic industry is highly likely to source a proportion of imported feedstock. Again, this will have no impact on the UK's ability to produce crops for food.

  40.  Even if the UK faces the highly unlikely scenario in the future whereby agricultural land use has reached capacity (ie all sustainable agricultural land is under production) and imported feedstocks are for whatever reason prohibitively expensive, the NFU does not believe that food security will be affected. Ultimately, domestic food production will always be the major market for UK producers and market forces will ensure that food requirements are met before those of biofuels.

What impact might the expansion of biofuels have on international food security and prices?

  41.  Basic economic theory tells us that an increase in demand for a good, assuming supply does not increase by the same proportion, will lead to upward price pressures for that particular good. In theory, increasing demand from the biofuel sector may lead to upward price pressures in the short term. However, as long as there is an adequate supply of productive agricultural land, this should not be an issue in the medium to longer term as producers respond to market signals.

  42.  The supply-price relationship in liberalized agricultural markets is very much cyclical and correlated. Farmers respond like rational economic agents, increasing production of a good when its price increases, the net effect being a degree of self-correction in the market, with price coming back down in response to greater supply. Through the notion of "decoupling" subsidy from production in the 2003 CAP reforms, EU farmers should and will respond to a greater degree to such market signals.

  43.  This, of course, assumes adequate supply of idle agricultural land. Neither Western nor global land use has reached anywhere near capacity. As such, there is plenty of slack on the supply-side to be able to meet an expansion on the demand-side. The EU's recent announcement to set the rate of set-aside to 0% will potentially bring back into production a total of 3.8 million hectares of land across the EU. While there is idle land, an expanding biofuels industry should not have a lasting impact on the price of food.

  44.  The relatively high levels at which commodity prices currently stand are very much due to supply-led factors, consequences of relatively poor harvests in major exporting and producing countries such as the EU and Australia, in both 2006 and 2007. Global wheat output for the 2006 harvest at 590 million tonnes fell 30 million tonnes short of the previous year. Relatively high prices have resulted due to this supply-shock, rather than anything to do with a major increase in demand for wheat, from the biofuels industry or elsewhere.

  45.  Similarly for maize, the major ethanol feedstock for bioethanol production along with sugarcane, current price rises are often incorrectly attributed to the fast-developing US industry. While the International Grains Council forecasts a 32 million tonne increase in 2007-08 maize for bioethanol use in the US, farmers are simultaneously increasing their maize acreages to match this demand—output is forecast to rise to a record 330 million tonnes in 2007—to the point that August IGC forecasts suggest a rise in US maize exports. This illustrates that the US has not eaten into its traditional exportable surplus of maize, and thereby has not contributed to the global tightening of maize markets.

  46.  In terms of the physical availability of agricultural commodities, the potential diversion of exports to biofuel production in developed countries should, in theory help to stimulate greater local production in developing countries. While food security and self-sufficiency are different objectives, the former is a function of both a critical level of indigenous production (ie a minimum level of self-sufficiency) and diversity of supply. It is quite safe to conclude that the level of indigenous supply is so low in the poorest countries of the world that an increase in self-sufficiency would necessarily lead directly to an increase in food security.

How might farm viability in both developed and developing countries change with an expansion of biofuels? What implications are there for poverty in developing countries? Should we be concerned about large monopolies forming in the biofuel sector?

  47.  We have shown that the size of the current biofuels industry has had a negligible impact on both price and quantity of cereals on the export market to date. However, as more land is given over to biofuel production over time, we may see this situation change, with some major developed country exporters diverting feedstock away from export markets to domestic biofuel industries. What will be the impact of this on developing countries?

  48.  The NFU suggests that such a scenario creates an excellent opportunity for farmers in developing countries. For at least the last 30 years, Europe's farmers have stood accused, through their association with the Common Agricultural Policy, of over-producing and dumping their surpluses with the aid of export subsidies on over-supplied world markets, so depressing market prices and contributing to poverty and starvation in poorer countries. Export diversion by developed countries should allow developing country farmers to produce for their own markets. A reduction in global exports will lead to upward price pressures, thereby making marginal land in many poorer countries economically productive. And this is where the vast majority of idle capacity is. Current estimates suggest a total of 490 million hectares of spare agricultural capacity in Africa alone. Taken one step further, increasing biofuel production in developed countries may create an opportunity for poorer country farmers to supply ever-increasing global feedstock requirements. An opportunity to engage in trade will better help to reduce poverty in the long term than the current over-reliance on aid.

  49.  Of course, there is a balance to be struck, as the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has recognised. In a statement issued in 2006, its Senior Energy Co-ordinator, Gustavo Best, said of bio-energy:

    "Farmers, particularly in tropical areas are seeing new opportunities for increasing production and raising their incomes. But we also have to be careful. We need to plan. Competition for land between food and energy production needs to be converted to positive common benefits."

  50.  An appropriately managed biofuels industry has the unique potential to marry together agricultural, energy, environmental and international development goals. Developed nations with biofuels expertise will be able to promote international development through technology transfer, investment in feedstock and/or biofuel production in third countries, while at the same time reducing GHG emissions and improving energy security.

  51.  There is of course also a need for developing countries to increase their own fuel security. The poorest nations in the world are worst affected when the price of oil rises. The Foreign Policy Centre estimates that a sustained $10 increase in the price per barrel of oil can reduce the GDP of some African countries by as much as 3% the following year; 38 of the poorest 47 nations are net oil importers, 25 of which are almost entirely dependent on oil imports. Technology transfer—biofuels as an aid for development—can help some of these countries to increase their own energy security and shield themselves to a greater degree from the fluctuations of the price of fossil fuels.

  52.  Ajay Vashee, the President of the Southern African Confederation of Agriculture Unions (SACAU) has confirmed:

    "Biofuels provide a huge new opportunity for our farmers to augment incomes, although we will have to tread carefully as we embrace this new technology. It is also expected with BioFuel production, for surplus global stocks of agriculture commodities to be eliminated, creating an additional market for the production of agriculture products, in Africa. Regardless of its application; production of commodities for, food, fibre or energy, better prices would greatly contribute towards Africa's economic development."

October 2007





 
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