Bio-energy is energy derived from biological sources (biomass). Biomass is an organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. This includes materials from plants, animals, wood, waste, manure, (hydrogen) gas, and alcohol fuels; to name a few. Wood is the most common biomass source. For thousands of years it has been used for cooking and heating. Bio-energy is a renewable energy source that can provide heat, make fuels and generate electricity. The rapidly changing world we live in requires a significant amount of fuel to power all its technologies and lifestyles. As such energy and environmental policies have been implemented in an attempt to prolong our natural resources. This, combined with several other factors, suggest that bio-energy sector can be affected by issues related to Sustainability, Livelihood, Education and Governance (SLEG).

A report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UK’s Department of International Development on April 8, 2009 suggest that small scale biomass and other bio-energy projects can play a significant role in rural and local community development in poor countries. This study was conducted in 15 different “start-up” bio-energy projects from 12 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Some of the benefits highlighted includes:

  • An increase in the efficiency of natural resources since waste products that would have been burnt or left to rot can be put to use to produce energy.
  • Fertilizers as a by-product from bio-gas production.
  • The use of intercropping to possibly produce food and fuel at the same time.
  • The generation of new capital with growth cycles by making use of marginal land.

As with everything there are some concerns associated with bio-energy production by rural poor. As previously mentioned wood is the most well-known biomass form and is used extensively in rural communities throughout the world as a source of heat and for cooking. In some parts of Africa wood fuel accounts for up to 90% of energy consumption. This has led to concerns over deforestation. Several studies have however suggested that fuel wood is not a driver for large scale deforestation but can still contribute to forest degradation and have negative impacts on forest health and bio-diversity.

Other major concerns are centralized around governance. Most communities are poor because of a lack of proper governance and political crisis. In order to ensure these bio-fuel and bio-energy projects exhibit long term benefits, there must not only be sufficient funding but also proper management of all the necessary components. The people have to be educated on the uses and benefits of bio-energy since to numerous rural villagers this is a new, unfamiliar field that may be greeted with some resistance.

Once these and other hurdles are overcome bio-energy can be a very promising avenue for the enrichment of the lives of many less fortunate individuals.


Bio-energy Bio-energy and its Relationship with SLEG

Sakeisha Anna Ramlal
AGEX 3001: Island Food Systems 2016/2017

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security (PISCES) Rome, 2009.

Biofuels can be referred to any fuel, liquid, solid and/or gas, derived directly or indirectly from an organic source of matter such as plant matter or animal waste. The term biofuel, however, is used in a narrow sense to refer to liquid biofuels for transport. Liquid biofuels for transport are generating the most attention and have seen a rapid expansion in production. Despite this, the liquid biofuels for transport only account for one percent of total transport fuel consumption and approximately 0.3 percent of total energy consumption worldwide (FAO 2008). With the expansion and growth of energy markets as well as the existing and emerging environmental policies that developed countries face, has changed the role of agriculture, particular within rural communities. Biofuels is one that affects and/or is affected by sustainability, livelihood, economy and governance (SLEG).
The article states there are many benefits of biofuels to the livelihoods of the rural community which include an increase in natural resource efficiency as energy can be created from waste that would otherwise be burnt or left to rot is put to use, the creation of useful by-products such as affordable fertilizer from biogas production, the possibility of simultaneously producing food and fuel through intercropping and the creation of new financial capital with growth cycles by making use of marginal land. Some of these benefits indicate how sustainable biofuel production is as it incorporates the elements of the food system and recycles the waste product.
Regardless of the benefits stated in the article, rapid growth in biofuel production will continue to influence food prices (economic effects) and this in turn will have an impact on food security and sustainability and these can be both positive and negative. Short-term, some countries will benefit from higher prices, but for the least-developed countries the net food import bill is expected to increase while long-term use and development biofuels could increase the demand for agricultural products and help improve and renew agriculture in developing countries. Higher food prices could indeed lead to increased agricultural production of non-food crops without compromising food crop production and could even lead to improved food security.
Government support is essential. Barriers may prevent farmers from benefiting from increased income opportunities. Government assistance to improve access to credit and infrastructure including local roads allows farmers to boost their incomes, and intensify food production, however, in most rural areas the lack of the government assistance is an existing problem that most farmers face.
One important issue not discussed within the article is the effects that women farmers face with use of biofuels. In most rural communities within China, India and sub-Saharan Africa, the most vulnerable farmers are the women farmers. This is due to insufficient allowance to finances and policies that restrict their access to aid that male farmers are given. For example, in some countries, women farmers use “waste” land to farm as they are not always given land through government assistance and these may now be reclaimed for the production of biofuels. Ensuring that the exploitation of their lands for growing biofuel crops and proper equitable policies are in place so that this issue does not affect the female farmers.

FAO, The State of Food and Agriculture, Biofuels: Prospects, Risks and Opportunities (2008) , Chapter 2, Key messages, p.22 Accessed on 1st April, 2017.

Bio-energy Benefits for the Rural Poor

Name: Krystal Ramdhanas         ID#: 814002034

According to the Bio-energy Resource Centre, bio-energy is renewable energy contained in living or recently living biological organisms such as plants and animals and can be obtained in both liquid and solid forms. It is the conversion of biomass resources into useful energy carriers including heat, electricity and transport fuels, therefore a diminutive amount present in local communities would have a substantial impact in the development of rural areas.

With regards to the article, in rural societies, the issue of poverty is typically associated with the economic and political systems which give rise to such problem. During the time period of September and November 2008, a joint initiative between the FAO and the PISCES Programme, stated that the incorporation of bio-fuels as part of growth factor in the rural areas of countries such as India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Tanzania was being implemented. The important aspects of Sustainability, Livelihood, Education and Governance (SLEG), exhibit a vital role regarding the use of bio energy in rural areas.

As the article mentions the possible benefits for the poor that can arise from the introduction of bio-energy, it can also be positively linked to acquiring food security and further development of the countries. Food security can be obtained from the changes in incomes and food prices, which are important elements as both quantity and quality of food purchased are influenced, which directly impacts livelihood and sustenance. The investment in the bio-energy sector can create new forms of employment in areas such as production, processing, transportation, trade and distribution, which are main parts of the food system. In addition, the power generated from the biomass sources can contribute to the development of rural communities by providing access to electricity, which would directly impact on food security, since improved energy availability can boost agricultural productivity, food preparation and education.

Furthermore, in relation to livelihood, the food system would be incorporated as the countries consist of many farmers who try to earn a living out of rearing animals and producing crops. Thus, the selling or trading of these products can gain wealth to the household; however the disposal of waste products would be used to create the bio-energy or sold to a company that manufactures bio-fuels. The waste products generated from all living organisms can be converted to cheap, usable energy sources. Therefore, education plays an important role, as farmers and other members of the rural area should be aware of the benefits of using and producing such bio-fuels.

The development of the bio-energy resources would therefore present both opportunities and challenges for the rural environment, as it would directly impact the use of wood for energy production and indirectly through the changes in land use. However, since the article also focuses on waste products as a source of fertilizer and bio-gas, the production of such can be used to create the opportunities for income and employment. With bio-energy being a renewable resource, ensuring its sustainability can be easier to maintain as compared to the use of non-renewable resources. Therefore, as the article mentions that the implementation of such reserve faces challenges, it should be known that investing in the bio-energy sector would be beneficial to the rural communities in terms of the future.

Krystal Ramdhanas 


Bio energy Benefits for the Rural Poor



Bio energy is considered to be a form of renewable energy created from natural, organic sources. Plants, animals and their by-products can be an important basis to this type of energy. Most bio energy comes from forests, agricultural farms or waste. The feed stocks are grown by farms specifically for their use as an energy source. Frequently used crops include starch or sugar-based plants, similar to that of sugarcane or corn. With reference to Bio energy, the four constituents of: Sustainability, Livelihood, Education and Governance (SLEG) demonstrate an important role.

People who reside in rustic areas and are financially unstable, that is rurally poor, can benefit from such energy resources.  Between September and November 2008, as a joint initiative between the FAO and the PISCES Programme, rural areas of countries such as India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and parts of Latin America are introducing bio energy as a form of development. Bio energy production did not have any negative impact on food security. Several benefiting factors can be; an increase in valuable energy being created from waste that would be either burnt or left to decompose. Low-priced fertilizers would be created using the by- products from bio gas manufacture. The method of intercropping can be used to produce both food and fuel concurrently and the ascension of the financial capital which uses the marginal lands.

Bio energy can sustain generations to come due to the actuality of it being renewable. Once there are waste products being created by living organisms, human beings can then transform it into usable energy. On the subject of livelihood, jobs can be created in order to carry out the five steps of the food system, which entails production, processing, distribution, consumption and recycling. Production can be in the case of a rural farmer and the rearing of plants and animals. Processing can be the harvesting of both crops and of animal products, such as milk or meat. Distribution is the sale or trade of the products produced using markets or home based outlets. Consumption comes from the people who purchase the products for cooking. Disposal can be the farmers reusing the waste generated from both crops and animals to create bio energy or vend to the companies making bio fuels. Education can be used in the sense of schooling both present day and old fashioned rural farmers of the process and profit of practicing the use of bio energy. The Government in turn, would therefore witness an increase in capital once rural areas are adapted to the use of bio fuels. Subsequently, bio energy strategies face execution challenges, which are similar to that of production activities in rural areas, such as technological limitations and the need of an investment capital.