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Viewpoints: Biofuels and trees in humid tropical countries of West Africa. Experts address the question: Can the growing demand for biofuels be met without threatening food security?

Ruf F., Legoupil J.C.. 2009. Natural Resources Forum, 33 (2) : p. 173-173.

In the humid tropics, with rich tree crops such as cocoa and abundant staples such as cassava, is there any place for biofuels? Using staple and annual crops as biofuels is dangerous for food security. However, to exploit trees/ perennial crops along with the capacity of the tropics to generate rapid growth of perennials for the production of biofuels would be logical. As an integral part of an improved slash-and-burn system, they could contribute to food security. In West Africa, the dominant tree crop - cocoa - often competes with food crops at the mature stage of the cocoa farm but does not do so at the two ends of the farm life cycle. At the young stage, the tree is intercropped with a number of different food crops. When the 'perennial' dies, food crops reappear. This cycle can be managed and adapted to 'perennials' such as oil palm and Jatropha, and also accompany social change. The driving forces of oil palm cultivation are that replanting cocoa on degraded land is difficult and farmers like to maintain a tree cover on their land as a property marker. Market diversification of palm oil to include biofuels may support this strategy. As a shrub that can be grown on degraded land, Jatropha is also emerging at just the right time. (Texte intégral)

Mots-clés : forêt tropicale humide; sécurité alimentaire; elaeis guineensis; theobroma cacao; biocarburant; afrique occidentale

Thématique : Sources d'énergie renouvelable; Nutrition humaine : considérations générales; Foresterie - Considérations générales

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