Author(s): Nazneen Shaik and Ashwani Kumar*
In light of the recent rise in global food prices, much of the publications on crop-based biofuel production focus on the potential impacts on food security. The bio fuels include bio ethanol, bio butanol, biodiesel, vegetable oils, bio methanol, pyrolysis oils, biogas, and bio hydrogen. There are two global biomass based liquid transportation fuels that might replace gasoline and diesel fuel. These are bioethanol and biodiesel. About 60 % of global bioethanol production comes from sugarcane and 40 % from other crops. The central policy of biofuel concerns job creation, greater efficiency in the general business environment and protection of the environment. The use of biofuels decreases the external energy dependence, promotion of regional engineering, increased R and D, decrease in impact of electricity production and transformation; increases the level of services for the rural population, creation of employment, etc. There is considerable controversy about the impact of biofuels on food security in developing countries. A major concern is that biofuels reduce food security by increasing food prices. In this paper we use survey evidence to assess the impact of castor production on poor and food insecure rural households in Ethiopia. About 1/3 of poor farmers have allocated on average 15 % of their land to the production of castor beans under contract in biofuel supply chains. Castor production significantly improves their food security: they have fewer months without food and the amount of food they consume increases. Castor cultivation is beneficial for participating households’ food security in several ways: by generating cash income from castor contracts, they can store food for the lean season; castor beans preserve well on the field which allows sales when farmers are in need of cash (or food); spillover effects of castor contracts increases the productivity of food crops. Increased food crop productivity offsets the amount of land used for castor so that the total local food supply is not affected.