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What’s Trending? Bio-Based Manufacturing, Bioenergy, Food Security, & Rapid Appraisal
The need for new, clean energy sources is on the rise. The development of bioenergy and bio-based manufacturing represent a growing trend and has gained momentum in various aspects of development. In Washington, DC this past week, two discussions took place on how bio-based manufacturing and bioenergy can be a new driving force for jobs, for powering rural industry, and for food security.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Agriculture Committee, led by Senator Debbie Stabenow, held a hearing Tuesday, June 17, on bio-based manufacturing in the U.S. A range of leading experts testified on the growing development and innovations for plant-based products in energy, manufacturing, packaging and bottling. According to one witness, Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America, “…the United States is on the doorstep of a new industry in bio-based products made from domestic renewable feedstocks.” These industries are providing clean energy, local jobs, and will grow because of the vast agricultural capacity of the United States.
A second event was held on June 19 that focused on bioenergy overseas. The UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) in Washington DC, presented an approach to bioenergy and food security (BEFS) that can be implemented in developing countries to achieve economic development and alleviate poverty. Bioenergy is defined as all energy derived from biofuels (fuels derived from biomass: material of biological origin excluding material embedded in geological formations and transformed to fossil). Bioenergy and food security can be mutually beneficial when ensuring that bioenergy development supports both food and energy security, and that it contributes to agricultural and rural development in a ‘climate-smart’ way.
In order to help countries implement sustainable bioenergy programs, FAO has created a ‘support package’ that identifies each step to be implemented in the process. Ana Kojakovic, FAO Natural Resource Adviser, shared FAO’s bioenergy and food security rapid appraisal components: Scoping, Stakeholder Dialogue and Capacity Building, Sustainable Bioenergy Assessment, Support to Policy Formulation, Impact Monitoring, Evaluation and Response and Risk Prevention, Management and Investment Screening. These components can be applicable at national and sub-national levels, ie, regional, district, community, etc. The outcomes of this process provides an indication of a country’s sustainable bioenergy potential and of the associated opportunities, risks and trade-offs.
Since the introduction of the BEFS Approach, it has been employed in six countries: Malawi, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Thailand. For example, Malawi, largely dependent on imports of food and fuel, is now focusing on developing crops to address energy needs as well as food needs. Malawi policymakers are reviewing how they can bolster their main crops such as tobacco by advancing towards more efficient energy to increase the production of their crops.