A new study by Friends of the Earth asserts the development of Africa's biofuel sector is leading to a "land grab" by foreign companies at the expense of local communities.
According to Friends of Earth's research, at least 5 million hectares (19,300 square kilometers) of land has been acquired in 11 African states by foreign companies. The businesses are planning to use this land to grow sugar cane, jatropha, and palm oil to service the world's growing alternative fuel market.
This process, the study says, will likely create conflict with local communities as forests will be cleared, and land that could be used to grow food will now be inaccessible. Friends of Earth states rice farmers in Tanzania have already been forced of their land for a sugar cane project.
More so than any other renewable energy technology, biofuels have been embroiled in an increasingly heated debate over their sustainability and effectiveness as an emissions reducing energy supply.
The report concludes, "The competition for land and the competition for staple food crops such as cassava and sweet sorghum for agrofuels is likely to push up food and land prices." The Friends of Earth study comes just a month after The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa published a report which said biofuels would boost the African economy, while not competing with food.
Read the full story at Reuters: Biofuel demand driving Arica "land grab": report
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