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Retrofitting the Brazilian Biodiesel Programme: Implications for Policy Design


  • Clovis Zapata

    () (International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth)

  • Sara Brune

    () (Wageningen University, the Netherlands)

  • Jackline Achieng Adero

    () (Wageningen University, the Netherlands)


In the context of oil price volatility and the need to reduce carbon emissions, biofuels are an emerging area of interest for many developing nations as alternative energy sources that, in some instances, can also enhance livelihoods in deprived agricultural areas. There are, however, a number of questions on this front: is it economically and environmentally feasible to incorporate small-scale family farmers into biofuel value chains? Can the production of biofuel feedstocks complement rather than compete with food crops? The experience of Brazil, a pioneer in the adoption of a socially inclusive approach to the production of feedstocks for biodiesel, has elicited much interest. This Policy Research Brief seeks to take stock of recent institutional developments and draw lessons as part of an ongoing learning process in an area where there are still no obvious sustainable business models or easy pathways to foster the inclusion of small-scale farmers. The Brief suggests that incorporation into the biodiesel value chain is both feasible and productive for family farmers. But the extent of the engagement required of intermediaries can be significant in the early stages of the programme in underserviced areas, particularly where farmers are dispersed and have not been extensively involved with market processes. Those embarking on these programmes thus have to consider such a production-support role. Further, the Brief suggests that intercropping (castor and beans, for example) can mitigate the food-fuel tradeoffs. However, the choice of optimal feedstocks from the point of view of equity and sustainability remains an open question.

Suggested Citation

  • Clovis Zapata & Sara Brune & Jackline Achieng Adero, 2010. "Retrofitting the Brazilian Biodiesel Programme: Implications for Policy Design," Policy Research Brief 15, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipc:pbrief:15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. da Silva César, Aldara & Otávio Batalha, Mário, 2010. "Biodiesel production from castor oil in Brazil: A difficult reality," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 4031-4039, August.
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