FAO Releases Report on Integrated Food-Energy Systems

17 February 2011: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN has released a new report titled "Making Integrated Food-Energy Systems (IFES) Work for People and Climate: An Overview."

The report presents examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America to demonstrate approaches to integrate food and energy crops that offer benefits to poor rural communities. It underscores that integrating crops can be an effective climate change mitigation approach. The report describes the benefits of generating biogas for cooking, the reduction of time spent collecting fuel wood and the use of compost from generating biogas. It describes two types of IFES, where food and biomass for energy are grown on the same land, and the use of agro-industrial technology that allows agricultural by-products to be used through gasification or anaerobic digestion. The paper notes that simple integration of food and energy production has occurred at small and large scales, but that there have been few examples of complex and more resource-efficient systems. It outlines barriers to implementation and wide-scale dissemination due to: the need for technical support; technology; financing; increased workload; competition among different uses of agricultural residues; access to markets; access to information; and the lack of policy incentives. The paper underscores potential policy and institutional solutions as well as areas for future work. [FAO Press Release] [Publication: Making Integrated Food-Energy Systems Work for People and Climate: An Overview]