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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 2: Designing a Strategy
The development and effective diffusion of new agricultural
practices and technologies will largely determine how well the
agricultural and forestry sectors will adapt to climate change;
in LDCs, the impacts of climate change could be especially
harsh, given the current low adaptive capacity and already low
agricultural productivity in combination with poverty, vulnerability
and food insecurity. Bioenergy development will be impacted in a
similar although differentiated manner, depending on the priority
given to different energy crops and management practices.
New traits, varieties and crops can play an important role in
climate adaption; however, the range of relevant practice and
technologies is much broader than biotech-oriented solutions,
and will include water management, production practices,
post-harvest technologies, information and forecasting, and
insurance (Lybbert and Sumner, 2010).
Creating the necessary agricultural technologies and harnessing
them to enable developing countries to adapt their agricultural
systems to changing climate will require innovations in policy and
institutions as well. In this context, institutions and policies are
important at multiple scales. Impediments to the development,
diffusion and use of relevant technologies can surface at several
levels – from the inception and innovation stages to the transfer
of technologies and the access to agricultural innovations by
vulnerable smallholders in developing countries.
Potential constraints to innovation involve both the private and
public sectors in both developing and developed countries.
Many countries have a long history of large, direct government
intervention in both input and output markets in agriculture
that have stifed the formation of vibrant private frms and
accompanying incentives to innovate.
The process of transferring agricultural innovations across
agro-ecological and climatic zones is often subject to agronomic
constraints. Agricultural biotechnology has relaxed some of
these agronomic constraints, but it raises a new set of potential
impediments in the form of biotechnology regulations. Although
intellectual property (IP) can also constrain technology transfer,
it is almost never the most important barrier. Where IP seems to
pose a problem, recent institutional and legal innovations provide
a point of departure for effective remedies.
In order to ascertain the logistical and economic feasibility of
feedstock supply, it is necessary to overlay the suitability and
potential yield maps with physical and economic infrastructure
data; the resulting overlay facilitates an evaluation of relevant
commercial activity and market accessibility for the various
feedstocks in different locations. Key infrastructure to map, if
there is available data, includes electricity supply and telecom-
munications, transport and communication infrastructure (e.g.
major roads, railroads, ports and airports), and processing
infrastructure (e.g. refneries or wood processing plants). Where
geographically-based socio-economic data is available, the labour
supply might also be evaluated, particularly for agro-energy crops
that have signifcant and often seasonal labour requirements.
Decentralized energy supply schemes for local use may need very
little infrastructure to be feasible, and in fact may be proftable and
valuable precisely in areas where (electricity grid) connection is
absent or unreliable.
The aforementioned approaches are “top-down” in the sense that
they are based on national or regional statistics and maps derived
from satellite data and related macro-methods. A comprehensive
assessment should also include bottom-up approaches, namely
“ground-truthing” of promising areas for feedstock production.
Ground-truthing should verify and clarify information from statistics
and maps. Ground-truthing teams must include or work closely
with local communities and other relevant local stakeholders as
well as technical experts in the area to ensure that the analysis
refects the reality on the ground (UNEP, 2010). A team leader is
needed to coordinate among the specialists and direct the feld
studies, which would generally involve multiple visits lasting a
week or more. The length and number of visits would increase
with the scope and scale of the bioenergy strategy as well as the
size and diversity of the country or region. Field level assessments
should also clarify the status of land ownership and current and
projected land use, possibly by overlapping user groups. Any
knowledge on land ownership and the perspectives of different
user groups also provides valuable input for the implementation
phases of the strategy and for institutional assessment
<How? –
Implementing Institutions and Land Ownership>.
How? – Implementing Institutions
Ownership of property, capital and resources is normally
codifed in commercial law and the registration of corporations
at national or sub-national level; contractual relations among the
various actors in bioenergy systems will be based on the formal
ownership institutions along with any informal business practices
that are common in particular regions and in some cases
refecting social preferences and the cultural identities of particular
groups or tribes. Of special importance for bioenergy are the
institutions associated with feedstock supply and land tenure
<Mod6-People and Processes>.
The various institutional options associated with production and
ownership of feedstock will differ in terms of: scale, structure
and the level of partnership between different stakeholders; they
range from large-scale plantation models owned and operated
by a single company to small-scale community initiatives for the
production of energy for local or even household use. Six broad
categories of feedstock production schemes can be distinguished
based on the following factors:
• Scale of operations of processing plant, i.e. large scale for
export or small scale for local use;
• Scale and ownership of farming operation: i.e. large industrial
plantations owned by the processing company (corporate
ownership), large commercial private farms (individual or
corporate ownership) or small-scale farmers (private, but often
on customary land without individual freehold title);
• Relation of feedstock producer to processing company:
in contract farming, the company buys feedstock from
outgrowers; in concession schemes, it produces on its own or
leased land;
Table 6 illustrates the ownership/contractual schemes. The choice
of appropriate schemes must take into account the end use
markets and the technology adopted. The potential risks and
benefts should be considered, with particular attention to social
aspects such as income generation and employment.