Stories tagged: energy

Recycling Agricultural Waste in Uganda to Produce Energy

The basic source of fuel in Uganda is wood in the form of charcoal or firewood, which over 90% of the population relies on for heating and cooking. This dependence on traditional charcoal and firewood is responsible for the prevailing deforestation and soil degradation, the effects of which have manifested in irregular rainfall, floods and violent storms.

The major cause of this is a lack of affordable and reliable alternative sources of energy, and where alternatives do exist, such as kerosene and gas, the majority of people are too poor to afford them.

A new project, ‘Energy Alternative Sources’, to save the forest has been set up by the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) that involves recycling agricultural waste to manufacture charcoal briquettes which are an affordable alternative to charcoal and firewood.

Through binding together agricultural waste in a kiln, a charcoal briquette is created that has a wide range of biomass, and provides an alternative to further deterioration of the forest. The charcoal briquettes have encouraged farmers to practice good environmental management, as well as getting women involved in the manufacturing process. The briquettes are cheap, readily accessible and offer a long-term sustainable solution to conservation agricultural practices, turning waste into energy.

New UK Government Report on Food Security for 2030

defraA new report issued by the UK’s Department for Enviroment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) outlines how the UK government intends to address future food security. According to the Guardian, the ‘Food 2030’ report takes the most comprehensive approach to agriculture policy since the Second World War.

The UK food industry is worth £80 billion and employs 3.6 million people. Driven by the triple threat of a growing population, the threat of climate change and a vulnerable supply of natural resources, the new policy by Defra outlines what the UK government perceives to be priority actions for the future, including:

  • increasing the amount of food grown in Britain
  • reducing the impact of agriculture upon the environment
  • reducing agricultural emissions by the equivalent of 3 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020
  • reviewing the impacts of UK consumption on agricultural economies in the rest of the world
  • addressing the issue of waste through reuse, recycling or energy generation
  • informing consumers about healthy, sustainable food choices.

The policy also spells out plans to double its investment in agricultural research to £80 million by 2013, with a focus on helping farmers in developing nations.  Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State of Defra, said:

By turning research into practical ideas, and by learning from what the best are doing, we can achieve a lot more. Science will also tell us when nature is under strain.

‘Food 2030’ seeks to improve the UK food industry from production to distribution, providing better resources to farmers, whilst using natural resources sustainably to help the global food industry.  Benn said:

We need to increase food production to feed a growing world population – there’ll be another 2-3 billion people in 40 years.

The Financial Times reports that plans detailing how these changes will be effectuated, including any necessary new legislation, will be released in the coming months.

‘Perfect Storm’ of Food, Energy, and Water Shortages by 2030, Predicts UK Chief Scientist

Professor John Beddington, the UK Government’s Chief Scientist, has warned that the world’s population is facing a series of threats to livelihoods due to insecure access to food, energy, and water.

The BBC News coverage notes that:

demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion…

Beddington warned that these issues must be tackled as soon as possible to prevent shortages globally.

The Farming First plan aims to create a comprehensive framework for addressing the very issues that Beddington highlights, and many more.  Creating a locally relevant yet globally connected system for agriculture will be key to minimising the potential impacts which arise from reduced access to these fundamental resources.