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Making Sustainable Biofuels Work for Smallholder Farmers and Rural Households: Issues and Perspectives

2009

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This paper provides an overview of the main risks and opportunities that may arise from liquid biofuel production and use in developing countries. Both the potential environmental impacts and the socio-economic effects of liquid biofuel production and use are discussed, focusing, in particular, on the household-level implications. A few country-levels impacts, which might trickle down to the household level, are discussed as well. As will emerge from the discussion, unless appropriate measures are adopted and implemented in liquid biofuel development policies and projects, all else equal, smallholder farmers (especially female-headed households) and women might be particularly exposed to the risks associated with LBP, and have, at the same, limited opportunities to engage in and bene?t from it. This is due mainly to the traditional lack of access of smallholder farmers to land, capital, technology and markets in most developing countries, as well as to men’s and women’s different roles and responsibilities within rural economies and to pre-existing socio-economic inequalities between them, particularly in terms of access to - and control over - productive assets. Assessing the speci?c effects of liquid biofuel production and use on these different groups is essential in order to identify potential winners and losers from the recent “biofuels boom”. Recommendations on how to minimize the risks and maximize the opportunities of liquid biofuel production and use are provided in the ?nal section of the paper. In particular, measures are recommended to exploit the rural development and poverty reduction potential offered by liquid biofuels. This requires strengthening the participation of smallholder farmers (particularly female-headed households) in the production of these fuels and ensuring that both men and women may engage in and bene?t from their production and use. [Introduction, extracto]

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