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Jamaica’s University of Technology follows an online course on the 'BEFS Approach'


The Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) Approach was developed by FAO to support countries in developing evidence based sustainable bioenergy policies and strategies. This increases food and energy security and contributes to agricultural and rural development around the world.

As part of the Bioeconomy module of the recently launched Multi-disciplinary Master of Science in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change at the University of Technology of Jamaica, students did a virtual training on the BEFS approach. They were given the skills to use the BEFS Rapid Appraisal Microsoft Excel-based tools and looked in-depth at two related case studies.  

The students were satisfied with the way the training was organized: “facility and facilitation were on point” they later commented. 

This is the first programme of its kind to be offered in the Caribbean region. Its establishment is a response to the need for specialists in the areas of sustainable energy and climate change, and it has a strong focus on sustainable energy, entrepreneurship and green business development. These are areas critical to Jamaica’s future development within the global economy and for the creation of new jobs and innovations.

 “It was a rich experience” said Lisa Bramwell, the course Lecturer “the information sparked significant conversation within our Whatsapp group for the Bio-Based Economy.” 

This training is particularly relevant due to the objectives set by the Government of Jamaica to increase the share of renewable energy in the country's energy matrix: 20 percent by 2030. To reach this target, bioenergy will need to contribute substantially in different sectors including agriculture, agro-industry and forestry. As in many Small Island Developing States, being isolated and surrounded by ocean has resulted in a dependency on imported fossil fuels.

The importance of agriculture for Jamaica has increased over the past decade with its contribution to Jamaica’s GDP reaching 7.9 percent in 2016. Agriculture absorbs 19 percent of the country’s labour force and is divided into large-scale commercial plantations that produce primarily for the export market, and small-scale mixed farms that produce for household subsistence and the domestic market. 

The development of a sustainable bioenergy sector in Jamaica has the potential to cut emissions, create jobs and sources of income for small scale farmers and attract new investments in large-scale agriculture.