Biofuels Push Ethiopian Farmers to Food Aid

November 24, 2008

Ashenafi Chote, of the Wolaytta district south of Addis Ababa, says that he regrets converting his land from food crops to caster seeds for biodiesel. He is now dependent on Food Aid and can no longer generate income from his land. The company that got him into this situation admit they have been unable to pay him, as agreed, because a loan they expected hasn’t come through!

The realisation that the cost of biofuel crops grown in temperate climates is too high to support a viable biodiesel industry has lead Europe to look elsewhere for cheaper raw materials. Africa, with its appropriate climate, soil fertility, and low labour costs can produce oil for biodiesel much more cheaply than Europe. Biofuels have been supported as a development path by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and other agencies of the United Nations (UN), with the proviso that projects are properly implemented to avoid any impact on food production or the environment. Unfortunately, unscrupulous companies can quite easily take advantage of desperate small farmers and naive governments, to drive unfair contracts.  –More–