oa Agriprobe - Adding fuel to the fire : a macro perspective on biofuel production in South Africa

Volume 8, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1810-9799



Energy security, support for agricultural and rural development, a reduced dependence on fossil fuels, and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are often cited as arguments for encouraging biofuel production (Sims et al. 2009). In South Africa, the effect of the reduced crude oil price was seen in the halting impact it had on bioethanol production from sugarcane that took place from the 1920s to 1960s (DME 2007; Eisentraut 2010). Today, oil price volatility and concerns about climate change is sparking new interest in the field. In addition, the global economy is expected to become more sensitive to 'green' production practices, encouraging businesses to incorporate an environmental awareness into their marketing strategies.

In South Africa, investment in biofuels is often promoted by the opportunities it may hold for the development of rural areas and the new employment opportunities it can create. Biofuels may also increase farmer income through providing an alternative source of off-take for agricultural produce. But there is no such thing as a free lunch and these benefits will likely come at a cost. This article deals with developments in the global biofuel market, the potential of second generation biofuel production in South Africa, and the externalities associated with the development of a national biofuel sector.

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