Monday, June 23, 2008

Congo uses Palm for Economic Development

The Republic of Congo plans to set aside part of its arable land for biofuel production. Congo has 8.2 million hectares of arable land, with less than 15 % of this land being cultivated. Three companies have asked for about 1.75 million hectares to plant palm trees for biodiesel.

Reported from the World Energy Global News Summary

Notice the 8.2 million hectares of farm land with under 15% in production. The interest in biofuels likely attracting foreign agricultural management, technology, and know-how to Congo. This is the first story of its type I've seen around Palm Oil. Usually its not called "arable land" but rain forest in a story.

We also see this in corn production in the US. With the additional market floor for ethanol it has given rise to more corn planted, harvested, exported, produced into food, and of course more ethanol. This side of the story is rarely discussed in stories about biofuels. Fortunately they don't call idle farm land in US set-aside "prarie" or "range land" when discussing using it to produce energy.

Usually the story pointing to any biofuel feedstock production assumes not a larger over all yield from a nation's resources but a zero-sum game as one of something means less of something else. Its to bad we don't see the truth about how the future of sustainable technology must focus not on cutting the pie in smaller pieces but instead a bigger pie with fewer inputs relative to the growing pieces.

That has been the past of the technology and should definitely be our focus for the future. There is also a large direct relationship between the wealth of a nation and its preservation of nature and environmental quality. No doubt a more productive Congo would be an overall greener Congo (though this is a very argumentive assertion on my part as many very green friends of mine have had this debate for years).

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