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June 2001

Renewable energy for sustainable agriculture and rural development in Honduras

As part of the follow-up of the Earth Summit, celebrated in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was designated task manager of Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 - Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD). The main objective of SARD is to increase food production and food security, without harming natural resources. It emphasizes the importance of rural energy to obtain increased productivity and enhanced income generation.

In theory, energy - and especially renewable energy - has a great potential to contribute to the objectives of SARD; in practice, integration becomes difficult mainly due to institutional factors. Most of the projects of rural electrification and renewable energy are developed by the power sector without involving other sectors, and are many times supply oriented; most agricultural and rural development projects do not take into account explicitly the energy requirements, which are viewed as a "black box" to be provided by others. Rarely do the energy and agricultural sectors join their efforts to effectively promote energy systems to support sustainable agriculture and rural development.

FAO collaborates in Honduras with national institutions in the process of integrating projects of renewable energy in rural development from the base: the demand of the communities.

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