Thursday, May 05, 2011

biofuel ban

To overcome two of Africa's most urgent problems, food insecurity and hunger, some are arguing for a ban on the production of food crops for bio fuel.

"Yes, there are droughts and floods, and yes, war and civil unrest have had a big impact on Africa's food security...," said Peter Brabeck-Letmanthe, chairman of the board at Nestle, during the World Economic Forum on Africa being held in Cape Town. "But bio fuel also has an important role to play when it comes to Africa's and the world's situation with food insecurity and hunger, as a large part of the world's agricultural production is used for the manufacturing of bio fuel," he explained. "Currently, 15% of the global maize production is turned into bio fuel. The same counts for 21.4% of the world's sugar and 45% of rapeseed. In the meantime, millions go hungry."

Food prices are higher now than at any time since 1984. Higher prices make life even more difficult for Africa's poorest, who already spend between 60 to 80 per cent of their income on food. Faced with reduced access to food and increased vulnerability to the seasonality of local food prices and markets, households are forced into unavoidable compromises, such as choosing cheaper (often less nutritious) food, selling productive assets, withdrawing children from school, forgoing healthcare, or simply eating less than they need.

The gap between the continent's domestic food supply and demand will widen as global consumption patterns continue to shift towards more profitable bio-fuels which supplant food crops.

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