Biofuels pose no risk to food security, says Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government says it plans to produce biofuels to cut oil import bills, dismissing fears the strategy could hit food production. Some 4.5 million Ethiopians need emergency food aid due to soaring prices and a severe drought, according to Reuters.

 The government faces an annual fuel bill of up to US$900 million, which it aims to reduce over time using biofuels. Ethiopia says it could make one billion litres of ethanol a year from four state-run sugar estates and has issued 37 licences to private investors to set up biofuel plants.

 "There is no shortage of agriculture land in Ethiopia for food production," Reuters reported Melis Teka, from the ministry of mines and energy, as saying. "We have up to 23 million hectares which could be developed both for crops and biofuel. Biofuel plants are being developed on arid and barren land not suitable for food production."

Ethiopia has suffered chronic food insecurity for many years. The country’s 1984-1985 famine killed more than one million people.

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