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BIO-FUELS: Current Status and Prospects 

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Demography and Food Consumption
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DEVELOPMENT OF SCENARIOS OF DEMAND FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE IN THE NILE BASIN  
 
   

Outputs

• Identification and detailed analysis of the major drivers of future demand of agricultural produce in the Nile basin.

• A set of policy relevant scenarios, describing equally plausible but alternative futures with respect to agricultural production and food security in the 10 riparian countries for the year 2030.

Background

Agricultural activities in the Nile countries account for 80% of all water use in the basin, while it represents the dominant economic sector in nine out of ten Nile riparians. Future agricultural development will inevitable impact the demand on the scarce Nile resource and is therefore a key-parameter in developing benefit-sharing plans. Local demand for agricultural produce is anticipated to grow in line with population increase and income growth, while commercial farming is increasingly producing agricultural commodities for export.

Projections of demand for food and other agricultural produce in the Nile countries are needed to estimate agricultural water use in the year 2030. This requires a set of demand scenarios describing possible futures in terms of population growth, the distribution between rural and urban populations, the development of commercial agriculture, and other drivers.

Scenarios

The growing use of scenarios as anticipatory planning tools results from the robustness and generality of the approach. Decision makers generally recognize the need to make an investment in thinking about the future in order to cope with tomorrow’s issues and to be able to intervene more effectively. While the future is inherently uncertain, our ignorance is not total. Many phenomena exhibit considerable inertia and the underlying causal structure in events leads to a measure of predictability. The question is how to combine predictable elements of the future with key uncertainties. Scenarios have proven effective in this process. The approach considers multiple futures, each determined by how key uncertainties play out as a function of a different underlying structure of cause and effect.

By identifying and analysing major drivers, decision makers will enhance their understanding of the underlying structure. In a world of increasing information overload, this facilitates to quickly interpret information from the environment and recognize new developments early on.

Coherent causal stories are an effective means of communication with multiple stakeholders at all reaches of society. A narrative is an efficient and intuitive data organization tool, bringing a wide spectrum of seemingly unrelated information in a mutual context. In particular when dealing with non-specialists, a set of stories about the future could assist in building support for policy measures.

Methodology

Several global initiatives have developed scenarios in the recent past: IPCC, the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, and the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture have all built scenarios which can be used as a basis for the development of a Nile-specific set of agricultural demand scenarios. The scenarios will describe possible futures in terms of population growth, urbanization trends, agricultural factors like commercial farming, expansion of irrigation, and the volatility of the rainfed sector, as well as other major drivers of demand for agricultural produce. The baseline is provided by the AT2030 dataset, which is FAO’s estimate of the probable future.

A regional workshop with selected specialists, key stakeholders, and policy makers is scheduled in October 2006 to identify major drivers of demand of agricultural produce. For each identified driver, the underlying structure will be analysed in depth. This will rely heavily on work by specialized agencies, like for example UNDP for trends in population growth and urbanization, and FAO for demand for irrigated production. Economic factors and incentives will be taken into consideration, as well as trends in global trade. The natural resource base needs to be considered as it can pose regional and local constraints.

A second regional workshop will use the acquired insight to build a set of value-neutral, internally consistent, and equally plausible stories on how demand for agricultural produce in the Nile basin may develop.

The set of scenarios will be used to assess the agricultural developments and associated water use in the Nile basin in the year 2030.

Commercial agriculture: source of employment
 
High investment commercial farming
 
Enhancing rural livelihood by improving agricultural productivity
 
Fresh fish at a local market
 
Vegetable production for local consumption
 
Transporting produce to favourable markets
 
Fresh produce ready for supermarkets