Biofuels offer opportunity for rural development: UN

October 15th, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) At a time of controversy around the use of biofuels in view of the global food crisis, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN Wednesday said biofuels offered “opportunity for agricultural and rural development”.“The environmental impacts of biofuels are also coming under closer scrutiny. But biofuels also offer the opportunity for agricultural and rural development - if appropriate policies and investments are put in place,” said FAO’s latest report, ‘The State of Food and Agriculture-2008 - Biofuels: Prospects, Risks and Opportunities’.

Keith Weibe, chief of Comparative Agriculture and Development Service, FAO, released the report Wednesday in New Delhi, on the eve of World Food Day.

“The boom in liquid biofuels has been largely induced by policies in developed countries, based on their anticipated positive contributions to climate change mitigation, energy security and agricultural development,” it said.

“Rapidly growing demand for biofuel feedstocks has contributed to higher food prices, threatening the food security of poor net food buyers in both urban and rural areas. It is a key message of the report,” Weibe said.

The feedstocks used for biofuel production include sugarcane, maize, wheat, rapeseed, palm oil, jatropha, switch grass and willow. The end use of biofuel is for transport, heating and electricity.

India Oct 12 in Washington demanded an immediate stop to diversion of food crops, particularly corn in the US, for producing biofuels to check a rise in food prices in the short-term.

“The long-term solution to this problem is to increase the supply of food grains; immediately, however, we should avoid wastage and diversion of food to fuel,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told a meeting of world financial leaders in the US capital last Sunday.

According to the FAO, around 75 million people joined the lot of famished last year.

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