UN agency pushes use of bioenergy crops in Asia

The Food and Agriculture Organization is working to promote the use of bioenergy crops in Southeast Asia so that the region may be able to balance the growing need for food and fuel.

Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO assistant director general, said in a statement that such a balance is achievable by sustaining the production of both food and bioenergy crops like sugarcane, tapioca and corn.

“Bioenergy can contribute towards achieving wider and more sustainable energy access,” said Konuma. “The key is to develop bioenergy options sustainably, with the inclusion of small holders and without competition with resources for food production.”

When prices of fossil fuel remain high, the development of Southeast Asia’s biomass resources becomes more attractive, he said.

And to prevent food security from being threatened, what is needed is a multifaceted approach that will promote rural development, mitigate climate change and ensure energy security, Konuma added.

“FAO has been working on the linkages and has developed a support package to assist countries in defining how to sustainably produce biofuels, which are clearly in synchrony with food security,” he said.

The United Nations agency is collaborating with the International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Thailand’s Ministry of Energy.

According to Irena’s Innovation Technology Center, its analysis of the “REmap 2030 (renewable energy roadmap)” shows the potential transformative role of modern sustainable bioenergy—in sectors such as buildings, industry, power and transport—towards the doubling of the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030.

“This opportunity allows for energy and agriculture experts to join forces and find solutions,” said Konuma.

The 10 years until 2024 has been declared “Sustainable Energy for All” in support of the UN secretary general’s initiative of the same name.

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