European Biofuel Targets Spurring Grabs of African Farmland


European renewable energy targets are driving widespread conversion of African lands for agrofuels, threatening to exacerbate hunger in poor regions and increase carbon emissions across the continent, according to a new report. National governments and private companies are increasingly acquiring agricultural land in Africa to grow crops to meet global demands for biofuels, according to the advocacy group Friends of the Earth (FoE).

About one-third of the land deals result in cultivation of crops that are used as fuel sources, including jatropha, sugar cane, and palm oil, the FoE report said. That reduces the amount of farmland available to grow food crops, leading to higher food prices. The report, which looks at land deals in 11 African nations, says many of the acquisitions are done without environmental assessments or local consent. “The amount of land being taken in Africa to meet Europe’s increasing demand for biofuels is underestimated and out of control,” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, food campaigner for FoE. The report recommends that European nations abandon their goal of achieving 10 percent of transportation fuels from biofuel sources by 2020.

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