ABSTRACT

SCOPE AND DEFINITION Scope Soaring prices of fossil fuels, geopolitical issues and environmental pollution associated with fossil fuel use has led to worldwide interest in the production and use of biofuels. Both the developed and developing countries have generated a range of policies to encourage production of combustible fuels from plants, which triggered public and private investments in biofuel crop R&D and biofuels production (Reddy et al, 2008). The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide a blueprint for improving livelihoods (by alleviating poverty), and preserving natural resources and the environment, with 2015 as target date. Though energy is the fuel of economic prosperity that is essential for alleviating poverty, nonetheless, diversifying crop uses, and identifying and introducing biofuel crops would lead to enhanced farmers’ incomes, thereby contributing to eradicating extreme poverty (MDG 1) in rural areas. ‘Energizing’ the agriculture production chain is critical to achieving food security, considering the strong correlation between per capita energy consumption and crop yields in both developed and developing countries. Energy feedstocks produced from selected crops, among other renewable sources, provide sustainable and eco-friendly energy options that foster environmental sustainability (MDG 7) and offer opportunities to improve the income level of the developing world’s smallholder subsistence farmers, who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, not all crops offer equal environmental advantages. The crop, cultivar, production system and the processing technology are critical. Bioenergy R&D will lead to new local, regional and national publicprivate partnerships for development (MDG 8) (Reddy et al, 2008).