Biofuel production offers a "window of opportunity" for rural development, especially in Brazil, Ignacy Sachs, a Polish socioeconomist based in Brazil and France, affirmed on Saturday, March 4.
Sachs participated in the plenary session of the National Sustainable Rural Development Council (CONDRAF), in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.
In his view, the Brazilian government’s biodiesel program is correct in providing incentives for the sector, and the country has great potential in this area, based on its success since the 1970’s in introducing alcohol as automotive fuel.
Sachs pointed out that for projects such as biodiesel to succeed, it is necessary to develop government policies to help intermediate between farmers and large agroindustrial processing companies.
He sees the rise of biofuels as a good example of what is called "development from within," a theory defended by the Chilean economist, Oswaldo Sunkel.
"Rural development can be the engine of national development," the Polish economist observed.
He also forecasted even greater development for the biofuel sector in consequence of technological advances, which, for example, allow vegetable wastes, such as rinds and husks, to be transformed into alcohol.
According to Sachs, these technological advances will also avert conflict between bioenergy and food production. In his view, the future belongs to integrated systems, in which various crops share the same space, with the residues of one serving as inputs for the other.
The CONDRAF plenary meeting ends Monday, March 6, when the 2nd International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, organized by the United Nations in partnership with the Brazilian government, gets underway, also in Porto Alegre.