A decision-support tool developed by FAO will help ensure that countries can enter the rapidly growing field of bioenergy industry to produce benefits for the poor without jeopardizing their food security. The tool, an “analytical framework” designed by a team of economists from FAO, Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute and Darmstadt’s Oeko-Institut, was unveiled at a two-day experts’ meeting of FAO’s Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) project. The three-year project, funded by Germany, is aimed at making sure that bioenergy does not impair global food security.
The analytical framework allows governments interested in entering the bioenergy sector to calculate the effect of their policy decisions on the food security of their populations. Bioenergy can affect food prices and rural incomes and thus has important implications – both positive and negative – for food security.
Maximizing positive outcomes
Applying the analytical framework will enable national policy makers to minimize negative consequences while maximizing positive outcomes. A prerequisite for running the framework is the establishment of a bioenergy development scenario, a process in which FAO helps government clearly define their bioenergy policy options and the various possible strategies to achieve those options.
The analytical framework then makes it possible, through five steps, to assess:
- technical biomass potential;
- biomass production costs;
- the economic bioenergy potential;
- macro-economic consequences;
- national and household-level impact and
- consequences on food security.
Analysis of the results will make it possible to determine actual bioenergy potential and which households are most vulnerable and thus at risk of food insecurity.
Existing mathematical modelling tools such as Quickscan, which calculates global bioenergy potential to 2050, and FAO’s COSIMO, which models the agricultural sector in a large number of developing countries, will be used. The framework will be field-tested in three countries – Peru, Thailand and Tanzania – before the analytical framework methodology is made available to the international community at large.
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Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), press reease, 2008-02-08.