The Developing World: In Depth Case Studies

The second phase of this project zooms in on specific countries – India, Mozambique, and Senegal – to assess the feasibility of investing in biofuels systems in poor countries themselves, as well as to assess which technologies will have the largest positive effects on producers and the least negative effect on consumers.

Specifically, our goal is to determine how direct investment, policy reform, and innovative markets and financing mechanisms could help developing countries manage their agricultural production systems to be more productive and energy efficient in the face of higher energy prices. This will enable developing countries to increase food security while maintaining and improving the overall quality of the ecosystems that support agriculture.

The added value of country case studies

Within the country case studies we are tracking the impacts of biofuels within the national food economies, linking economy-wide effects to a set of households that can be disaggregated on the basis of ethnicity, gender, employment, place of residence (urban/rural) and whether the household is a net producer or consumer. Beyond this, we are also following the impact pathways of biofuels across the physical space of each country. It is only through this kind of analysis that we can truly determine who the real ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of expansion in global biofuel production are, and what share of them fall within the critical developing regions of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Assessment of alternative biofuels investment technologies

The case study countries will also be the means by which we rigorously carry out the investment analysis – assessment in the broad sense of the word. Which types of systems can fit in different parts of the country? Which types of plants using which feedstocks will best help the poor? Will one scale of design be pro-poor and another be anti-poor? Under what conditions (that is, in light of the global effects of biofuels and the effect on food prices – and the price of feedstocks – within the developing country) is an investment in biofuels profitable at all?

An investment analysis is being carried out in tandem with the global modeling effort. We are assessing potential technologies in the context of their consequences for income distribution, land ownership, policies, and other (non-engineering) variables that are important to making biofuels a successful part of an overall poverty alleviation policy.

We are tracing these effects through to the households. In this way we can track how investment into biofuels in developing countries will affect the domestic economy (in terms of prices of agricultural commodities and availability for domestic consumption and export/import) and the effect on different types of households’ production, income, poverty and nutrition.

For the purposes of providing a rich country-level view of the likely impacts (both negative and positive) of biofuels expansion, on the case study country’s agricultural sector, and the wider economy, we are seeking to incorporate a detailed country-level agricultural model of each case study country into our framework, so that we can understand the linkages between biofuels growth and agricultural sector. We also would like to see what technological options are available, for the biofuels, sector, so that we can evaluate their efficacy and overall environmental impact. Finally, we hope to get a clearer picture of the socio-economic impacts of biofuels growth, through linking our macro-level analysis with micro-level analysis of impacts across different types of households. This will bring out the livelihood impacts of growth in the biofuels sector, more clearly.

Modeling of the case study country agricultural sector

We are linking the global-level modeling of agricultural market dynamics with a detailed country-level model for each case study country that captures the essential characteristics of the country’s agricultural economy and its policies. Such a detailed policy model should be able to capture the medium- to long-term growth trends of major agricultural commodities within the country – especially the following: grains, pulses, oil crops, high value, and livestock. The key indicators of price, production, consumption (for feed, food and other uses) and trade (within India and/or net exports and imports with the world) will also be utilized.

This model will also be able to:

  • Capture income flows
  • Have a reasonable representation fo trade policies relevant for the country in question
  • Have some representation (and even response) for factor prices for labor and fertilizer
  • (Ideally) have some separation between rainfed and irrigated crops
  • Have linkages between food demand and changes in population and income

In terms of the wider goals of the project, we are linking such a model to both (a) the IMPACT global model, which can represent shifts in global trade regimes for agriculture, and also (b) household-level data which will be able to give a more disaggregate view of welfare and consumption impacts of policy shifts and changes.

Country-level analysis of technology potential

We are obtaining a rich country-level view of the available bioenergy options for each case study country, and how they might impact upon the country’s agricultural sector, and the wider economy. This will give use a better understanding of the potential human well-being impacts of biofuels expansion within the country.

Household level analysis and quantification of impact pathways

We are seeking to create linkages to micro-level, household data and response relationships, in order to better understand the human well-being impacts of biofuels expansion within each case study country. In particular, we would like to see the implications of biofuels growth on: poverty incidence and income inequality, changes in total and agricultural income that accrues to different groups, net changes in the food security status of different types of households, and likely impacts on crop choices of farmers.

We are creating micro-macro linkages between both the global and national-level policy models that will be employed in this project, so that we can capture the impact of shifts in global trade regimes for agriculture, national policies and obtain a more disaggregate view of welfare and consumption changes.

Household-level Linkages Relevant to Human Welfare

Household-level Linkages Relevant to Human Welfare