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University College Cork (2016)

The impact of biofuels on food security. From global to local, using case studies from Mozambique and Tanzania

Thornhill, Stephen

Titre : The impact of biofuels on food security. From global to local, using case studies from Mozambique and Tanzania

Auteur : Thornhill, Stephen

Université de soutenance : University College Cork.

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2016

Résumé
This thesis finds that biofuel operations can, under the right conditions, help improve food security in rural areas of low-income countries where poverty and hunger is most rife. It also finds little evidence that biofuels have significantly reduced global food availability or have been largely responsible for rising food prices over the past decade. This contrasts with much of the media coverage surrounding the long-running food versus fuel debate. The results of household surveys in Mozambique and Tanzania showed that those households with employees of biofuel operations were likely to be significantly more food-secure than other households in the same locality. A regression analysis that controlled for key influences on food security, such as household size and crop area, confirmed “biofuel involvement” as a significant factor behind a higher food security status. Most “involved” households attributed their improved food security to better and more stable income from salaried employment. A macro analysis of the global biofuel sector found that the rise in the biofuel feedstock area over the past decade represented little more than 1 per cent of the world’s arable and permanent crop acreage. It also found little evidence that US biofuel production had accounted for a large proportion of maize price changes over the past decade. Moreover, there appeared to be limited transmission between US maize prices, used as a global benchmark, and local maize prices in Mozambique and Tanzania. The development of a novel food security indicator during this study - the household nutrient deficit score – can improve our understanding of the linkages between agriculture, including biofuel feedstocks, and food security. The metric and its methodology can help measure the impact of agri-based interventions on local food and nutrition security, assisting policymakers and organisations involved in sustainable certification systems.

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