La nourriture à l'âge des biocarburants

ROME – Au cours des dernières années, les biocarburants sont devenus une pomme de discorde. Pour certains, une source d'énergie renouvelable produite à partir de matière organique équivaut à une baguette magique pour lutter contre le changement climatique. Mais d'autres considèrent les biocarburants comme une menace existentielle, parce que les usines utilisées pour les fabriquer entrent en compétition pour les terres arables et pour l'eau, qui pourraient être utilisées autrement pour produire de la nourriture.

Mais c'est une fausse dichotomie. Le choix ne peut pas se faire entre la nourriture et le carburant. Nous pouvons faire un bon usage des deux. Dans de bonnes conditions, les biocarburants peuvent être un moyen efficace d'accroître la sécurité alimentaire en fournissant aux agriculteurs pauvres une source d'énergie durable et abordable.

Dans certains pays africains enclavés, l'essence coûte trois fois plus cher que le prix moyen mondial, ce qui fait des prix du carburant un des principaux obstacles à la croissance agricole. Étendre l'utilisation des biocarburants dans ces régions pourrait accroître la productivité et créer de nouvelles possibilités d'emploi, en particulier dans les zones rurales. L'effet pourrait être plus fort si la demande supplémentaire en matières premières créée par les biocarburants trouvait preneur chez les agriculteurs familiaux et les petits producteurs.

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