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World Ag Congress : World Ag Congress
FOOD SECURITY: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO BIOFUELS Smt. Radha Singh, Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, India; Lee Broughton, Director, Corporate Sustainability, Enterprise; Bill Horan, Project Coordinator, 25 x ′25 and Professor Nuhu Hatibu, CEO, Kilimo Trust, East Africa World Agricultural Forum 2009 Congress 17 Q: What are responsible ways of starting to come up with solutions where we produce food and fuel at the same time? A (Singh): While certain countries are planning the expansion of ethanol and bio-diesel production, what we need to focus on is not so much a food- versus-fuel production scenario. Rather the commonalities among and between the two that will help us move towards an integrated approach of food and fuel, and leveraging investments into the agriculture rural sector which guarantees both farmers and the investors a better return. Both biofuel production and crop production can be integrated in an approach where it becomes an attractive proposition for investors because the incomes are not totally coming from crops, which are seen as very vulnerable, but from biofuel production. A (Broughton): The over-arching theme for our organization as the largest purchaser of vehicles in the world is sustaining and maintaining the viability of the passenger vehicle. But who would ever have thought that that might conflict with food prices? As part of a number of efforts underway in our company, the Enterprise Rent A Car Institute For Renewable Fuels housed at the Danforth Plan Science Center is where top scientists are working on finding new ways to create fuel from renewable reliable plant sources. Their mission is to improve the human condition by feeding the hungry, improving human health, preserving and renewing the environment. Our goal is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and lessen the world's dependency on fossil fuels. There is significant mileage to be gained in bio-fuel production that does not compete with food production. A (Horan): I'm here representing an organization 25 x '25. Our goal is to provide for the U.S. 25% renewable energy by 2025. We believe that there is enough plant material that we can produce in this country to provide food, feed, fiber and fuel. We can generate hundreds of billions of new dollars of economic activity with renewable energy in this country alone. It improves national security if we lessen our dependence on imported foreign oil and it will result in improved soil, water and air quality. There are challenges however. We have legacy stakeholders in the petroleum industry that have a different agenda. We have idealogs who see good as the enemy of the perfect. We have to pull together our technical and investment challenges to get to the finish line on renewables, to make them a commercially viable product. Biofuels provide a valuable near-term solution. There aren't many near-term solutions out there, but agriculture is certainly one of them. We have the potential in agriculture to sequester 25% of the annual emissions. Q: Can we, or should we, influence decisions of individual farmers to produce food or industrial crops, or should that stay the decision of individual farmers? A (Singh): Farming, in general, is a free enterprise and I would like to see it remain that way. What government's role in a situation like this ought to be is to have a policy regime that either incentivizes or de-incentivizes certain directions that it would like to give. A (Hatibu): You cannot really avoid influencing. Policy decisions influence everyone and the position of the market. And policy decisions are going to be made. It's going to affect what we do with biofuel. So the influence will be there, but it needs to be balanced to look at the long-term objectives and policy instruments are created that head everybody towards the long-term objectives. WAF Q & A SESSION WITH HENK JOOS, PLANT SCIENCES AND AGRONOMY DIRECTOR, D1 OILS, MODERATOR TAKE-AWAY INSIGHTS FROM ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION "Co-production of food, feed, fiber and now fuel is not a new phenomenon. We've been doing that in this world for a very long time already. The only difference is that we now have a number of additional solutions and a number of different options for farmers to create additional value for society." "It's very important that at the moment we come up with solutions, we ask ourselves a very honest question. Do we dare to look in the face of the farmers we are offering these solutions? If the answer to that question is no, then we did not bring a solution, we added complexity to the life of that farmer." "There's more to renewable energy then just economics. People understand the benefits of renewable energy and lessening our dependence on foreign oil and they want to do it." "We all need to be involved in this issue of indirect land use changes as part of the carbon footprint of a renewable fuel. It's one we've got to take control of, or else our destiny is going to be in the hands of everyone else, and not just for fuel, but for agricultural production itself."