Bio-Diesel As A Rural Development Strategy

Having become the world leader in ethanol production, Brazil turns to bio-diesel, with a policy that is intended to benefit small, family farms so as to keep them on their land, and benefit President Luiz da Silva in his reelection bid.

In a dual effort to reduce the country's pollution and improve the economic vitality of its rural poor, Brazil has put forward legislation that will require the blending of biodiesel into the nation's diesel fuel -- a move that is expected to benefit small farmers.

"Biodiesel producers who want to qualify for hefty tax breaks must purchase 10% to 50% of their raw materials from small growers, depending on the region."

"Major companies, including U.S. agribusiness behemoth Archer Daniels Midland Co., are building production plants, encouraged by a federal mandate requiring every liter of diesel fuel sold in Brazil to contain 2% biodiesel by 2008, rising to 5% by 2013."

"President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is running for reelection, has touted biodiesel production as a way to spark development in some of the poorest regions of the country, particularly the rural northeast."

Thanks to Ralph Borrmann

Full Story: Farmers' Hopes Sprout as Brazil Bets on Biodiesel



Bio-Diesel as a rural development strategy

Bio-Diesel as a rural development strategy

Producing desirable additives for Disel has presumably twofold objectives. First is to reduce pollution from vehicular emmission and second to encourage rural development. Encouraging farming of plants/trees from which the additive can be extracted may not necessarily lead to rural development. If such plantations are taken up on a large scale by corporate sector with maximum automation and mechanization, the small grower will either sieze to exist or will be exploited by the corporates. For genuine rural development to take place, the small plantation owners will have to be encouraged with easy access to instutional finance, assured prices for the produce, made a stake holder in the marketing and above all manufacture of the final product. Only then can the benefits filter down to the small grower, adding to his wealth and income and leading to greater purchasing power and consiquent rural development. Otherwise he will continue to be at the mercy of the village moneylender, the “Agent” buyer of his produceand exposed to the vagaries of the global market for the final product over which he has little or no control. The sad plight of the small cane grower in some of the states of India, totally ruined and driven to suicide due to fluctuating domestic and international prices of sugar and export-import policies of national government is a testimony to this scenario.

It is not only the small grower or farmer but also the small artizan who needs to be protected and encouraged to achieve all round rural development. Produce for which “local” market can be created, need to be identified. In a country like India which has an excellent transportation network of roads and railways connecting almost every village in the country ( rural population in India still forms over 70% of the total) products that can cater to the 'transient' population (containers for beverages like milk,tea,cofee, fast food items) if manufactured locally by home based artisans will add substantially to the local income and the village economy. It can, to a large extent dilute the “Push” factor responsible for the migration of rural worker to the urban centres. A welcome beginning was made in India by the Railways to ban the use of styrofoam containers for hot beverages and use the locally made small earthern pots which are also environment friendly being bio-degradable. Unfortunately the initiative did not retain its initial steam.

Any rural development strategy must centre on local produce and skills and encourage self sufficiency in villages. Despite much maligning and ridicule the philosophy of the great Mahatma Gandhi of treating village as the focal point for any national development strategy is the only way for true development in the third world countries.

Prakash M Apte

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