Box 14: Biofuel crops and the land issue in the United Republic of Tanzania

While the Tanzanian Government is encouraging investors to consider the United Republic of Tanzania for ethanol and biodiesel production, it is also trying to grapple with a number of uncertainties and constraints. First and foremost are the interrelated questions of land availability and food security. Requests for land for bioenergy crops (mainly sugar cane, oil palm and jatropha) are in the order of 50–100 000 hectares at a time. Although there will be a considerable time lag before such large-scale plans are transformed into planted fields – developments currently being implemented are in the 5–25 000 hectare range – the short- to long-term implications for food security are being studied as a matter or urgency.

For many households in the United Republic of Tanzania, their food security depends on access to land. There are concerns that the amount of land being requested cannot be met without displacing households from their land. Because suitable farming land mostly belongs to villages, some argue that no free land is available. Others, however, argue that only a small percentage of cultivable land is actually being used for crop production. Large amounts of land are under the control of government institutions such as the Prisons Service and the National Service, and while village land may indeed be used by farming communities, much unused land remains available according to the Tanzania Investment Centre and the Sugar Board of Tanzania. However, investors are looking for land close to existing infrastructure and reasonably close to ports and are not interested in the vast areas that are not currently serviced by adequate infrastructure. Over the longer term, poor infrastructure, weak extension services, the near-complete lack of credit and low yields are obstacles that will continue to inhibit transformation of the country’s agriculture sector.

Access to land is complex in the United Republic of Tanzania. All land is classified as either village land or national land. The procedure for renting village land is both complicated and time-consuming as the potential investor must obtain consent at the village, district, regional and then ministry levels. Presidential consent may even be required, depending on the size of land area requested. At the end of the process, the village land is reclassified as national land with the land deed held by the Tanzania Investment Centre, which then leases the land to the investor for up to 99 years. This process, which involves the payment of compensationto farm households, can take up to two years. Leasing national land is a much shorter process. A more effective mechanism for locating appropriate land, assessing food- security implications and coordinating information flows among the various ministries, agencies and investors involved is needed in order to create the necessary investor-friendly environment while safeguarding the welfare of the affected populations.

In part, the land issue highlights the lack of a bioenergy policy and the legal framework required to support government and investor decisions. Indeed, both investors and government officials frequently state that the absence of bioenergy policy is the single most pressing problem facing the development of the sector.

Sources: based on or informed by the authors’ discussions with officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives, Ministry of Energy, Tanzania Investment Centre, Sugar Board of Tanzania, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); with representatives from InfEnergy, Sun Biofuels, British Petroleum, Diligent Energy Systems, SEKAB, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ) and Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environment Organisation (TaTEDO); and with researchers from the Microbiology Unit at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Source: FAO, The State of Food and Agriculture, Biofuels: Prospects, Risks and Opportunities (2008) , Chapter 6, p.84

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Other Figures & Tables on this publication:

TABLE 1: Biofuel production by country, 2007

TABLE 2: Biofuel yields for different feedstocks and countries

TABLE 3: Hypothetical potential for ethanol from principal cereal and sugar crops

TABLE 4: Voluntary and mandatory bioenergy targets for transport fuels in G8+5 countries

TABLE 5: Applied tariffs on ethanol in selected countries

TABLE 6: Total support estimates for biofuels in selected OECD economies in 2006

TABLE 7: Approximate average and variable rates of support per litre of biofuel in selected OECD economies

TABLE 8: Energy demand by source and sector: reference scenario

TABLE 9: Land requirements for biofuel production

TABLE 10: Water requirements for biofuel crops

TABLE 11: Import bills of total food and major food commodities for 2007 and their percentage increase over 2006

TABLE 12: Net importers of petroleum products and major cereals, ranked by prevalence of undernourishment

TABLE 13: Share of net staple food-seller households among urban, rural and total households

Box 1: Other types of biomass for heat, power and transport

Box 2: Biotechnology applications for biofuels

Box 3: Biofuel policies in Brazil

Box 4: Biofuel policies in the United States of America

Box 5: Biofuel policies in the European Union

Box 6: Main sources of uncertainty for biofuel projections

Box 7: Biofuels and the World Trade Organization

Box 8: Biofuels and preferential trade initiatives

Box 9: The Global Bioenergy Partnership

Box 10: Biofuels and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Box 11: Jatropha – a “miracle” crop?

Box 12: Agricultural growth and poverty reduction

Box 13: Cotton in the Sahel

Box 14: Biofuel crops and the land issue in the United Republic of Tanzania

Figure 1: World primary energy demand by source, 2005

Figure 2: Total primary energy demand by source and region, 2005

Figure 3: Trends in consumption of transport biofuels

Figure 4: Biofuels – from feedstock to end use

Figure 5: Uses of biomass for energy

Figure 6: Conversion of agricultural feedstocks into liquid biofuels

Figure 7: Estimated ranges of fossil energy balances of selected fuel types

Figure 8: Support provided at different points in the biofuel supply chain

Figure 9: Biofuel production costs in selected countries, 2004 and 2007

Figure 10: Breakeven prices for crude oil and selected feedstocks in 2005

Figure 11: Breakeven prices for maize and crude oil in the United States of America

Figure 12: Breakeven prices for maize and crude oil with and without subsidies

Figure 13: Maize and crude oil breakeven prices and observed prices, 2003–08

Figure 14: Price relationships between crude oil and other biofuel feedstocks, 2003-08

Figure 15: Food commodity price trends 1971–2007, with projections to 2017

Figure 16: Global ethanol production, trade and prices, with projections to 2017

Figure 17: Major ethanol producers, with projections to 2017

Figure 18: Global biodiesel production, trade and prices, with projections to 2017

Figure 19: Major biodiesel producers, with projections to 2017

Figure 20: Total impact of removing trade-distorting biofuel policies for ethanol, 2013–17 average

Figure 21: Total impact of removing trade-distorting biofuel policies for biodiesel, 2013–17 average

Figure 22: Life-cycle analysis for greenhouse gas balances

Figure 23: Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of selected biofuels relative to fossil fuels

Figure 24: Potential for cropland expansion

Figure 25: Potential for yield increase for selected biofuel feedstock crops

Figure 26: Potential for irrigated area expansion

Figure 27: Agricultural trade balance of least-developed countries

Figure 28: Distribution of poor net buyers and sellers of staple foods1

Figure 29: Average welfare gain/loss from a 10 percent increase in the price of the main staple, by income (expenditure) quintile for rural and urban households