The Energy and Agriculture Nexus

Environment and Natural Resources Working Paper No. 4

FAO, Rome, 2000


Energy has a key role in economic and social development but there is a general lack of rural energy development policies that focus on agriculture. Agriculture has a dual role as an energy user and as an energy supplier in the form of bioenergy. This energy function of agriculture offers important rural development opportunities as well as one means of climate change mitigation by substituting bioenergy for fossil fuels. This report focuses on the challenges and opportunities of advancing modern bioenergy technology, in general, and on the technical, environmental and economic benefits of the energy function of agriculture, in particular.

This report has been prepared as a contribution of FAO to the 9th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development which will meet in April 2001 and its follow-up, which is expected to accelerate the global move towards more sustainable energy systems.

Keywords: Energy; Agenda 21; Commission for Sustainable Development - CSD; rural development; agriculture; bioenergy; sustainable energy systems; energy indicators; Kyoto Protocol.

Cover Photograph by A. Odoul, FAO Photo Library

This series replaces the following:

* Environment and Energy Series
* Remote Sensing Centre Series
* Agrometeorology Working Papers

List of documents published in the above series and other information can be found at our website: http://www/

Table of Contents


Glossary and Definitions

Executive Summary

Chapter 1: Energy in the World Economy

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Fuel Types

1.3 Energy and Development

1.4 Energy Consumption by End-use Sector

1.5 Global Issues in Energy Supply and Demand

1.6 Local Environmental Impacts

1.8 Energy Security, Diversity of Supply and the Role of Renewable Energy

1.9 Renewable Energy Technologies

1.10 The Energy Challenge

Chapter 2: Energy for Agriculture

2.1 Entry Levels for Interventions

2.2 Energy and Agricultural Production

2.3 Commercial Energy Use and Agricultural Output

2.4 Agricultural Energy Needs

2.5 Mechanization and Conservation Agriculture

2.6 Chemical inputs

2.7 Cooking

2.8 Energy and Agroprocessing

2.9 Energy Policies in Agriculture

2.10 Food Security

2.11 Impact of Trade on Energy Demand in Agriculture

2.12 A New Direction for Energy in Agriculture - the Use of Measurable Indicators

Chapter 3: Rural Energy Supply

3.1 Demographic Trends

3.2 The Challenge of Providing Rural Energy Services

3.3 Experience of Rural Energy Programmes

3.4 Sustainable Rural Livelihoods

3.5 Modern Biomass and Rural Energy

3.6 Biomass Conversion Technologies

3.8 Bioenergy R&D and Technology Development

Chapter 4: The Energy Function of Agriculture

4.1 Energy in the Wider Agricultural Context

4.2 Energy Supply from Agriculture

4.3 Crops for Energy or Food?

4.4 Climate Change Mitigation

4.5 The Role of Bioenergy in Climate Change Mitigation

4.6 Exploiting the Potential of Biomass

Chapter 5: Mobilizing Synergies

5.1 New Approaches to Energy and Development

5.2 The Energy-Agriculture Nexus

5.3 The Outcome of CSD-8

5.4 Key Issues

5.5 Technology Leapfrogging

5.6 Impacts on Rural Livelihoods

5.7 The Role of FAO

5.8 Advancing modern bioenergy technology

5.9 A Challenge and an Opportunity



A.1: Indicators of energy use in agriculture

A.2: Bioenergy terminology and database

A.3: Recommendations to promote Photovoltaics for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development