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Home » BioRefineries, Business News/Analysis, Feedstocks, Field Crops, Funding/Financing/Investing, Policy, South Africa, Sustainability

Maize Farmers Lobby to Supply Biofuel Industry

Submitted by on March 14, 2011 – 7:56 amNo Comment

by Stephanie Nieuwoudt  (Interpress Service News Agency)  South African maize farmers are pushing hard to change a government decision to exclude their crops as feedstock for bioethanol, in view of food security concerns.

Shortly after the government unveiled its biofuel strategy last December after months of dilly-dallying, Minister for Agriculture, Lulu Xingwana, opened a small window of hope for the maize and maize sorghum lobby by promising to change the Cabinet decision if they could prove that surplus stocks could be produced.

Maize is a staple in southern Africa. But with prices plunging, South African commercial farmers have left an estimated 1 million hectares of available land idle. Production has remained around 8.6 million tonnes annually – a figure that meets the demand of consumers while still ensuring a profit for farmers.

…(I)ndustry players are convinced that were all available land to be cultivated, the yield would go up by at least 3 million tonnes – enough to satisfy the biofuels market without any negative impact on food security.

…While the maize lobby is awaiting further developments, the state-owned Central Energy Fund (CEF) is investigating the possibility of setting up five biofuel plants in the country – for processing of sugar beet and sugar cane into bio-ethanol, and soy beans, sunflowers and canola into bio-diesel.

…According to (Sibusiso) Ngubane ( projects manager of the CEF), each plant could create direct employment opportunities for between 120 and 160 people. Once the plants are up and running, biofuels could reduce unemployment by 0.6 percent, mainly in the rural areas, and stimulate farming in previously neglected places like Pondoland and Makhatini Flats, fulfilling the primary goals of the biofuel strategy.  READ MORE

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