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Biofuels In Africa: Investment Boon Or Food Threat?

Biofuels in Africa: Investment Boon Or Food Threat?

Biofuels in Africa: Investment Boon or Food Threat?
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SOUTH AFRICA: April 4, 2007


JOHANNESBURG - Africa's vast arable lands have the potential to rival top agricultural nations like the United States in supplying biofuels to a world seeking cleaner energy sources.

But using land reserved for food production to supply biofuel demand could squeeze food supplies in a region vulnerable to shortages. It could also hurt poor consumers if the biofuel boom continues to push food prices higher. As alternative energy takes off, Africans hope to cash in on the high prices of the commodities used to produce these fuels.

Already, investors have pledged billions of dollars for plants to produce bioethanol and biodiesel from crops like sugar, maize and soy in Africa.

Ernst Janovsky, head of agriculture at First National Bank in Johannesburg, said the high rainfall belt betw…