Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS)
Malawi, a land-locked country, in southeast Africa faces significant development challenges due in part to heavy reliance on imported goods, including 100% reliance on imported petroleum. Access to modern energy is very limited with only 10% of the population with access overall, and less than 1% in some rural areas. Over 98% of household energy comes from traditional biomass like firewood and charcoal. At the same time, Malawi is classified as a low income food deficit country with 52% of the population living below the poverty line and 27% undernourished. Maize provides over half of the average daily calorie intake and over three quarters of the population is directly or indirectly involved in maize cultivation. The overreliance on singular sources of energy and food has made Malawi very vulnerable to climate change and commodity price changes. Diversification in food and energy production are top priorities of the government and are included as key components in both the Agricultural Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) and the National Export Strategy (NES).
Malawi has over 30 years of experience producing ethanol and blending with petrol, but lacks a clear strategy for bioenergy to contribute to development objectives. The Ministry of Energy has requested assistance from FAO to provide support in developing a Bioenergy and Food Security Roadmap. In order to develop the Roadmap, the Ministry of Energy has called for the formation of an inter-ministerial working group to discuss policy priorities and define near term and longer term actions. The Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) Working Group met for the first time February 27th, 2013 in Lilongwe, Malawi and will continue to meet for at least the next six months to develop the Roadmap.
BEFS Malawi Working Group