A new report published by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) emphasizes that farming systems which utilize crops for both food and fuel purposes can help alleviate poverty and increase food and energy security. Alexander Muller, Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources of the FAO, argues that "poor farmers can use leftovers from rice crops to produce bioenergy, or in an agroforestry system can use debris of trees used to grow crops like fruits, coconuts or coffee beans for cooking." Therefore, farmers will be able to save more money by combining food and fuel systems, because they will be less reliant on purchasing fuel and fertilizer. More money available for farmers means they can invest in inputs that will help improve their agricultural productivity, such as new seeds designed to cope with changing environmental conditions.
Currently, the new program is being carried out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, showing positive early results for farmers that are combining food crop production with the processing of wood and charcoal for fuel. Overall, the FAO stresses that integrated food-energy systems will increase agricultural yields while driving down fuel costs, benefit women by allowing them to focus more on their crops, mitigate climate change, and help increase land and water productivity.
- Brock McNairy
SOURCE: UN News Centre