4.5 million hectares, or 15% of the Usable Agricultural Area of France – that is the amount of African land that is about to be bought by European investors to produce biofuels for the European market.
These figures were published in a recent report called “Afrique: terre(s) de toutes les convoitises” (Africa- the coveted land) published by the Association Les amis de la Terre. This report also reveals that Belgian, Italian, French, British, and German companies are currently investing in land in sub-Saharan countries such as Kenya, Mozambique, and Congo. The objective is to produce agricultural raw materials such as sugar cane, corn, manioc, and palm oil for processing into ethanol or biodiesel. Biofuels are destined to account for at least 10% of fuel needs for transport in EU member states by 2020.
The arrival of European companies looking for biofuels in Africa is a new phenomenon, with the production of agricultural raw material no longer being purely to feed populations. Nowadays corn, vegetable oil, and manioc are also used to produce energy for the planet.
The ever tighter integration of energy issues into States’ agricultural strategies means than agriculture will become an even more strategic sector over the coming years. What’s more, it will result in agricultural markets being exposed to new risks relating to securing energy supplies and land management. In the future, and in the absence of world agricultural governance, these risks will all be a destabilising force.