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Rice, fuel, riots

Food for fuel vs food for life

Is Moringa the answer?

We are arriving at that collision crossroads where decisions are being made as to the type of crop to grow and for what reason.

Crops are grown for feeding populations, specifically ubiquitous crops like rice and corn. Water is essential for growing anything.

Today, there is an increasing tension among farmers as to the crops to grow, with a slant now towards using land reserved for growing rice to  growing corn for ethanol.  The objective is that growing corn is more financially satisfying and  correlates with reduction of dependence on oil as well.

Hence the shortage of rice, and the seeming problems of obtaining new land resources on which to grow  rice – ensuing in global shortages and growing rioting (Egypt, Haiti, Asia…)

In addition, there is growing concern for overusing water resources  to grow these crops if we are to sustain our lifestyles.

If corn requires irrigation, then each gallon of ethanol
from corn requires 500 to 1,000 gallons of fresh water.

If corn requires more than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of irrigation per year, then the ethanol you get from the biofuel will not provide sufficient energy to desalinate the amount of seawater you will need to irrigate the next year’s crop. So in South Africa, for example, if the government is contemplating building desalination plants, they might instead stop growing any corn for ethanol if the corn requires anywhere near that much irrigation.

Finally, the extent of tropical deforestation for the purposes of growing biofuel is difficult to calculate. But it appears we are talking about a few hundred thousand square miles just in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Needless to say, an equivalent amount is lost to biofuel in the Amazon, and Africa is racing to catch up. As you know, tropical rainforests once covered 8.0 million square miles – and today there is less than 3.0 million left. I would guess .5 million is already gone for biofuel plantations, with another .5 million (possibly much more) destined to be lost to biofuel within 5 years.

Compared to corn, sugar cane can yield twice the ethanol
per unit of area, but also can require more water.

The sugar-bioethanol chain, which has provided huge benefits for Brazil, could also create jobs and income for several African countries, hence many countries are considering it.

But sugar production has created major concern in recent years. Future potential is limited in South Africa and one reason for this is the industry’s consumption of water. A 2005 World Wildlife Fund study found that 600 to 1000 litres of water are used to produce 1 kg of sugar, or one million litres of water to produce 12.5 tonnes of commercial cane. It is a water intensive crop that remains in the soil for the whole year.

When we look at the land ratio to food for fuel, food for life, there are issues which will need to be addressed so as to create more equity in distribution. Emphasis should be placed on stepping up the research on moringa as as effective substitute for food and for fuel.

Read more on Moringa here

Source> ecoworlddotcom


Comments on: "Rice, fuel, riots" (3)

  1. […] Riots are ensuing as more and more people face the possibility of a drastic reduction in the staple which has kept them going over the years see Muriella’s Corner, Rice, fuel, riots […]

  2. Greetings of Peace. SALAMUN `ALAYKUM.

    Dear Sir,

    Your company maybe interested to invest in central Mindanao to develop an Agri-Industrial complex primarily to produce BIO ETHANOL fuel from the seeds of Malunggay.

    Should a minimum >10,000 hectares of agricultural lands be feasible for the purpose, May I respectfully present such an area of titled lands almost clustered and contagious located in one Municipality plus a manpower complement that may guarantee sovereign stability at the grass root or community level for a corporate or joint venture scheme.

    GOD BLESS. Warm regards. Wa al SALAM.

    Muhammad Jamil

  3. Yes , but there are second generation biofuels that are made from non-food sources and agricultural wastes. Sometimes they’re made from algae which grow on water and do not compete with food crops for land, or non-food crops like jatropha. These are becoming viable alternatives to fossil fuel, as they do not contribute to social problems like rising food prices, nor is their production an environmental disaster. Indeed they over manifold benefits!

    Do see,my report, The European Biofuels Challenge-Developments in European Union Policy and Industry Drivers, which is available as a free download at http://www.reportbuyer.com/go/RBY00011

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