Biofuels ? driver of rural development?

Can agrofuel production make a contribution to rural development in the developing countries, or will a food-fuel competition result? This is a highly contentious issue at present. Political decision-making in the industrial countries ? for example, on minimum blending quotas for biofuels ? will result in countries having to purchase agrofuels on the world markets, further driving up food prices. If these political parameters change, e.g. if trade tariffs are amended, the biofuels bubble on the world markets could very quickly burst. For rural regions in the developing countries, biofuels offer substantial potential to tap into new markets. However, there is also a risk that these countries will become highly vulnerable to the political decisions taken in the industrialised countries. Economic development is heavily dependent on access to energy. The use of locally produced agrofuels therefore offers great potential.

Alexander Müller
Assistant Director-General
Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO)
Rome, Italy

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