Biofuel production in Vietnam: economic viability, and impact on the environment, food security and economic welfare

Government policies support biofuel production in Vietnam. Although biofuel production promises great potentials for energy security, employment and income generation and rural development, its expansion has been criticized for reducing food security and for the negative effects on the environment. These impacts are likely different between developed and developing countries due to differences in the environment, consumption structures, terms of trade effect, trade openness, land mobility, non-market effects, and biofuel substitution possibilities. The literature assessing the impacts of biofuel is very thin for developing countries, especially on welfare and equality. Vietnam is an agricultural country with 71.9% rural population and 48.9% of the labour force working in the agriculture and forestry sector with a moderate level of food insecurity. Feedstocks for biofuel production such as cassava and jatropha are cultivated outside the two main rice production areas. Cassava for biofuel production is even imported from neighbouring Cambodia. Nevertheless, cassava is an important food crop while jatropha is a non-food crop that can be grown on marginal lands with low agriculture productivity. Considering the two feedstocks and their production requirements negative impacts on the environment and on food security are not immediately obvious. This research aims to assess the impacts of the biofuel production policy in Vietnam on food security, the environment, energy security and economic welfare. The research results will contribute to the wider scientific debate on sustainable biofuel production and to formulate policy recommendations for sustainable biofuel development. This project is funded by the European Union under the Erasmus Mundus - External Cooperation Window Project EURASIA