Biofuel and food security: insights from a system dynamics model. The case of Ghana
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Abstract Empirical evidence from research points to biofuel as a possible substitute to conventional fossil fuel-gasoline and diesel. Some countries USA and many in Europe are working towards mandates and legislations that impose on the market a share of biofuel in the national energy mix in the medium to long term. In response to policy preferences and attractive incentives, global biofuel production tripled between year 2000 and 2007 and again was projected to double by 2011 (Molony & Smith, 2010). Unlike other developed countries, countries in Africa have remained relatively less engaged in the biofuel revolution thus far, but the continent is increasingly viewed as the global powerhouse for biofuel feedstock production (Wetland International, 2008) due to its supposed abundant land resources, cheap labor and preferential access to protected markets. Records on land acquired for biofuel production in Africa is difficult to obtain or are not available. However, recent reports have revealed the scale of biofuel rush in the sub-region where foreign and local firms have acquired large tracts of agricultural land for biofuel production. African governments are increasingly paying attention to the opportunities of biofuel production to stimulate economic development, increase international trade, encourage foreign investment, increase rural development and reduce energy dependency Tanzania, for instance spends US$1.3-I.6 billion per year, about 25 percent of total foreign earnings on oil imports (Sulle & Nelson, 2009). This research aims to develop a dynamic simulations model that incorporate available data, evidence and expert's opinion on how biofuel and food production interacts, to project the impact of large-scale cultivation of biofuel feedstock on food security in Ghana. It is hoped that the model could be used as a boundary object to engage policy-makers in developing countries to better understand-quantitatively and qualitatively-the interactions, linkages and feedback relationships among biofuel production, food security and land use. In addition, the model could be used to test the likely impacts of proposed biofuel policies and alternative policies on food security. The key finding from the simplified model of biofuel and food production interaction is that, as biofuel production takes off, some land will be used for the production of biofuel albeit as a small fraction of potential agricultural land remaining. But biofuel production is likely to increase income to local farmers or investors who are directly engaged in biofuel production and may revive rural economies of out grower farmers; however, it is expected to contribute to food price increase the effect chiefly taking hold among the poor, but higher food prices will also cause investment in food production to rise, contributing to eventual high food production. This key finding has policy implications; which suggest that if policy makers place more emphasis on biofuel production without actively supporting food production, could lead to food security issues if gains from biofuel production are not effectively used to reduce cost of food production as food price rise.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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