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FAO Publishes Study on Small-Scale Bioenergy Production for Rural Development

© FAO8 April 2009: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UK's Department for International Development have published a study on the role of small-scale bioenergy production in local communities for rural development. The study, titled “Small-Scale Bioenergy Initiatives: Brief Description and Preliminary Lessons on Livelihood Impacts from Case Studies in Latin America, Asia and Africa,” reports on a series of 15 case studies of start-up bioenergy projects covering a range of bioenergy resources, such as residues from agriculture and forestry and liquid biofuels.

The analysis focuses on the market systems, market actors, supporting services and enabling environment that contributed to the success or failure of the different initiatives. The results show that there are a number of potential benefits from using new technologies for biomass-based rural energy, including increases in natural resource use efficiency, creation of useful byproducts such as fertilizer, and simultaneous production of food and fuel through intercropping. The study concludes that natural resource efficiency is possible in small-scale bioenergy initiatives, noting that there were no impacts on local food security in the cases studied. It further emphasizes the importance of long-term planning and regulation, flexibility and diversity and collaboration in the market chain. Recommendations for further research include developing: sustainability criteria for small-scale bioenergy initiatives; further work on economic case analysis, incentives and constraints to adopting improved bioenergy technology and practices, and equity and gender; and further case studies in other applicable contexts. [FAO press release] [The study]