Understanding (the benefits of) bio-fuel-based development models and their impact on resource use negotiations and rural livelihoods in southern Africa (Mozambique)

Bio-fuels constitute a novel opportunity to provide new sources of income for poor rural communities involved in their production in developing countries.

This research programme aims to understand the impact of development interventions that are based on bio-fuel production. It seeks to analyse different bio-fuel production models, as well as their developmental impact - on rural livelihoods and resource competition - in areas of production expansion. The programme focuses on southern Africa, and build on a country case study of Mozambique, where various bio-fuel initiatives are being developed and promoted by both local and international agencies in absence of detailed assessments of their developmental impact, especially the differential ways in which these initiatives may benefit or negatively affect the environment and livelihoods of the rural poor.

Current policy in Mozambique aims to stimulate production of energy crops for biofuel with a number of goals: to stimulate rural employment and rural development, to address local and national energy needs (in particular to substitute for transport fuels). Export of biomass to third countries for bio-energy generation, or the relationship between bio-fuels and mitigation of global warming are not mentioned. In the Netherlands, government policy revolves around the potential environmental benefits of bio-energy in terms of mitigation of global warming. It also aims to stimulate the import of biomass for bio-energy conversion in the Netherlands. The major means to ensure that feedstock imported for the energy industry is produced in a sustainable manner, and thus to support environmentally-friendly bio-energy production in the Netherlands, is through the setting up of a certification scheme.

Although many Dutch ministries, including DGIS, are involved in recent policy statements and actions, the relationship between the rapid expansion of bio-fuels and opportunities and threats for sustainable development in Africa and other parts of the developing world is poorly articulated.

Bio-fuels enter an arena of existing competing claims on natural resources (land and water). Such claims manifest themselves at various scale levels, and are not confined within national borders but are transboundary in nature. The increasing demand for bio-fuels adds further pressure and complexity as it leads to additional claims on land and water resources by (multi)national bio-energy companies. This raises questions on how these new claims impact on local populations that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. Do local populations have choices, in particular when claims are superimposed or overlapping? How can local populations be involved, reap benefits or at least not be deprived from resources on which they base their current livelihoods?

Together with partners from research organisations in Mozambique, and with policy-related institutions in Southern Africa, we have developed this proposal for research to analyse current and future developments around bio-energy. The central research question we will address is: Which local, national, regional and international bio-fuel production initiatives favour the inclusion of local stakeholders in the development process, and under which conditions are they most likely to benefit the livelihoods of the local rural population? (as opposed to them being marginalized by powerful extra-local stakeholders’ interests in local resource use).

Current bio-fuel developments vary from development of large plantations and new factories in rural areas (The ‘contract’-model of bio-ethanol production with sugarcane), stimulation of localised bio-fuel production (the smallholder bio-ethanol production model with cassava), promotion of bio-diesel production marginal areas (the ‘marginal lands’ model of bio-fuel production with jatropha), to the potential of using food crops for bio-fuel production (the food versus fuel model of bio-fuel production with maize, sweet sorghum). These ‘bio-fuel-based development models’ result in new forms of competition between stakeholders and intensify competing claims on natural resources. Such claims manifest themselves at various scale levels (local, regional international), yet their impact is highly localized. The proposed research therefore takes the local level as an entry for study, seeking to address competing claims-related questions such as:

  1. What are the possibilities for production of bio-fuels by smallholder farmers? How can bio-fuel crops be integrated within existing farming systems without resulting in food insecurity?;
  2. How can local stakeholders (smallholder farmers, contract laborers) be    involved in decision-making and negotiation over the resources on which they use to build their livelihood?;
  3. How can local stakeholders benefit from different development pathways, either being included in (eco) tourism or production of energy crops?;
  4. Which development models offer more equitable opportunities for inclusion of rural people, while also being economically competitive and environmentally sustainable?;
  5. What are the potential effects of changing prices for basic food commodities given the increased pressure for bio-fuel production?;
  6. How do north-south and south-south policies and partnerships shape development possibilities for local populations?
Our research results will be presented in a set of seven thematic reports, each of

which will be distilled into a short ‘policy brief’, and in ten MSc research theses. Two overarching scientific articles will be written to synthesise the findings. Two international workshops will be held to discuss the findings and to feed directly the policy debate, both in Mozambique and the Netherlands.

Journal Articles

The following Journal articles have been published:

Zvinavashe, E., Elbersen, W., Slingerland, M., Kolijn, S. and Sanders, J. 2009, Cassava for Food and Energy. The case of cassava processing at different sacles in mixed farming systems in Mozambique, Biofuels, Bioproducts and Bio-refining (accepted)

Bijman, J., Slingerland, M. and Baren van, S. 2009 Contractual arrangements for Smallholders in bio-fuel chains: A case study of Jatropha in Mozambique (Paper for proceedings of PENSA workshop Brazil, November 2009)

Burger, K., Peters, F. 2010. Large plantations, small farmers and the labour market, Congres Hohenheim

Master Thesis

Within the Competing Claims, Competing Models project, several MSc student reports have been issued:

Nuria Cunha Soares, 2009 The Effects of Jatropha Plantations on the Land Rights of Smallholders Farmers and Communities in the Mozambican Bilene - Macia District. MSc thesis International Development Studies, Wageningen University (supervisors: Han van Dijk from Agrarian Law and Maja Slingerland from Plant Production Systems)

Allessandro Baruzzi, 2009 How are Sweet Sorghum related claims produced and used in developing countries? MSc thesis for Master in Agricultural Knowledge Systems (MAKS), Wageningen University (supervisors: Sietze Vellema from Technology and Agrarian Development Arthur Mol from Environmental Policy and Maja Slingerland from Plant Production Systems)

Sanne Jansen, 2010 About Cassava as biofuel crop: measurements about effect of management on crop yields (Supervisors: Sander de Vries and Gerrie van de Ven from Plant Production Systems)

Josema Albeniz, 2010 Jatropha curcas L. development explained by soil nutrient status (Supervisor: Maja Slingerland from Plant Production Systems and Raymond Jongschaap from Plant Research International)

Samito Assamo, 2010Pest control in Jatropha using botanicals. (Supervisors: Dr. Louisa Santos - UEM)

Daniel Maduma, 2010 O Crescimento de Jatropha curcas L. na Provincia de Gaza no periode de 2007-2009. (Supervisor: Prof. Almeida Sitoe - UEM)

Manuelinho Manuel Tomo, 2010 Análise do crescimento inicial da Jatropha curcas L. numa área de producao de biocombustivel em Matutuine, provincia de Maputo. (Supervisor: Prof. Almeida Sitoe and Benard Soares Guedes - UEM)

Martins Aboo, 2010. Avaliacao de crescimento de arvores de especies nativas plantada em consociacao com culturas agricolas num projecto sequestro de carbono na comunidadede Nhambita (Supervisor: Prof. Almeida Sitoe - UEM)

Ruvimbo Sagundo, 2011 (Supervisor: Peter Oosterveer from Environmental Policy)

Ernst Sonneveld, 2011 Smallholder contract farming in Xinavane, Mozambique: Management conditions for mutual benefits in the sugarcane sector. (Supervisor: Alex Bolding)

Student Internship Reports

Anouk van Grinsven, 2009 The irrelevance of macro monitoring of the indirect effects of biofuel production in developing countries. Discussion paper macro monitoring written during internship with the Ministry for Development Coopertion, The Netherlands.

Maria Caldeira, 2010 Material Flows on a Jatropha Plantation in Manhica, Mozambique: Plantation Establishment and Management (Supervisor: Maja Slingerland form Plant Production Systems)

Policy Documents

Within the Competing Claims, Competing Models project, several Policy Support Papers and Reviews have been issued:

Darell Hufman, 2010 Biofuels for today and tomorrow. A policy brief on the quest for sustainable biofuel production, processing and use in Mozambique/ supervision Peter Oosterveer from Environmental Policy and Maja Slingerland from Plant Production Systems

Seminar on Competing Claims - Competing Models: Bioenergy in Mozambique, 8-9 December 2010 Organised by Wageningen University, with policy makers and NGOs. Presentation of programnme outputs, Wageningen and The Hague, The Netherlands