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Craig
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:21 pm    Post subject: Will ethanol production save Africa? Reply with quote

And will it allow governments to finally reduce subsidies to agriculture? The price of grains and corn will continue to rise as more and more biofuel plants come on line. A new one in Sask. will require 400,000 tonnes of wheat annually in order to produce 150 million litres of ethanol. Since Canada is mandating that the country consume 3 billion litres by 2010 the amount of crop required to support ethanol production will surely drive up prices. This will present governments with an opportunity to reduce subsidies and more importantly will allow Africa to compete in the global grain market (something it hasn't been able to do because of massive western subsidy programs).
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read some places that it takes 60% - 80% of a liter of gasoline to produce one liter of ethanol, due to fuel-intensive farming and everything else involved. I'm not sure if that is true, though. In other places I've seen that it actually requires significantly more energy to produce ethanol than it produces itself.

Anyways, I'd be interested to see the global numbers, since you are making an argument about the character of world prices. It seems to me that ethanol will be important to the industry but it would seem that most growth in demand will come from changes in population and diets in "emerging" markets. As in, China wants more wheat and also needs it to feed livestock (so it will export less and is making more deals to buy more). American subsidies are less about helping farmers and more about concentrating power in agribusiness multinationals (90% of subsidies go directly to big business). There are also indirect subsidies, such as the various ways sugar prices are kept high so as to make corn syrup viable. For subsidies to fall there would need to be more than just changes in world prices, the intended effect in favour of multinationals would need to be secured. You are correct that this may include large subsidies (aid) to expand the operations of these multinationals further into Africa.

If world prices for grain (and meat) increase coinciding with increased multinational activity in Africa within a neoliberal framework, you may get a repeat of events in many other parts of the world (and often in Africa). First large landowners wed with multinationals will change remaining production from local needs to export-oriented growth. This will make food more scarce in-country and will drive up local prices. The profits associated with this shift will be shared by elites in the country and the multinationals. Yet because the land will be controlled largely by these conglomerates of power, and because the food budget of locals may increase when it comes to some basics, there will not be some resurgence in labour-intensive small farming. This will be made certain by government policy, which may also target people for attempts at self-provisioning, vagrancy and crime. This large free pool of labour will therefore have few options except to accept employment in new multinational factories. At this point Tom Friedman will write about how he'd rather be an A student in the African Lion Economy than a B student in Brooklyn.
cbasu





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:38 pm    Post subject: Short answer - Nyet Reply with quote

Europe and Japan will never reduce their subsidies, which means the US will have every excuse it needs to say "no".

Besides, the US political realities being what they are, no politician aspiring to the Presidency - and that includes every Senator - will ever actually do anything substantial to address the subsidy issue.

Africa's problems are far more deep-rooted than just Western farm subsidies.
Craig
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Short answer - Nyet Reply with quote

cbasu wrote:
Africa's problems are far more deep-rooted than just Western farm subsidies.


I think you would be surprised. Being able to support one's family through one's own effort rather than from multinational aid has a real empowering effect on people. It would be a huge first step.
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Short answer - Nyet Reply with quote

Quote:
Being able to support one's family through one's own effort rather than from multinational aid has a real empowering effect on people.
Amen.

However, this is not what has or will happen in Africa, or most places in the world for that matter. Large producers dominate export production and integrate people into it as they would any other factory system. Small peasant producers are forced to the margins or driven directly into selling their labour on a market. This process of accumulation is part of a larger historical process of creating a working class that is subordinate to capital. There are positive parts to this process, especially if labour can build itself up as a countervailing power and achieve some gains concurrent with increases in the productivity of labour. But people are right to be skeptical in any case.
Mac





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several different methods of producing ethynol. Each has a different "recipe" of required ingredients. Grains and corn factor prominently in most but a few companies are concentrating on using the waste products of grain and corn; the straw, stalks and husks. If these processes can be made viable (and there is some positive indications) then it would make ethynol more viable as an alternative fuel, not simply as an additive.

The burning characteristics of alchols is remarkably different than gasoline formulations and today's engines don't take advantage of those differences. For instance, I've read about dragsters using custom ethynol & nitrous combinations which, because of the lower BTU of the alcohol, were able to idle briefly without a radiator which represented a significant weight savings.

So, in addition to pushing the envelope in alternative fuels, we need to do research on making the most effective non-polluting use of said fuels.

Whether these developments will make a difference in Africa or not has more to do with their governments than anything else, IMHO.

-Mac
Craig
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Short answer - Nyet Reply with quote

Donald Hughes wrote:
However, this is not what has or will happen in Africa, or most places in the world for that matter. Large producers dominate export production and integrate people into it as they would any other factory system. Small peasant producers are forced to the margins or driven directly into selling their labour on a market. This process of accumulation is part of a larger historical process of creating a working class that is subordinate to capital. There are positive parts to this process, especially if labour can build itself up as a countervailing power and achieve some gains concurrent with increases in the productivity of labour. But people are right to be skeptical in any case.


I don't really see American or Canadian farmers complaining about this. In fact, it is the Canadian wheat board that seems to upset Canadian farmers the most - not Cargill.
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't really see American or Canadian farmers complaining about this.
The process is advanced in the West. The back of traditional farming was broken largely during the period leading up to and during the Industrial Revolution. But you can see widespread resistance to this process in say the giant farmer and peasant movements and revolutions around the world for at least the past century. The ebb and flow of these movements in response to the expansion of capital and connected increases in the productivity of labour is probably the most important human story of the last few hundred years. What small farming exists is almost wholly subordinate to various forms of middle-men, which of course includes the Wheat Board but also the financing side of things.

But, more bluntly, I've never found a small farmer unwilling to talk about being subordinate to some greater power. Small farmers tend to complain incessantly about what they see as the tidal forces of prices and financing arrangements, and the power of bodies they feel subordinate to in determining their work and income. In some ways this makes their basic economic interest similar to that of the poor in foreign countries: Remove structural supports for the multinationals and you'd put both the smaller farmer and foreign independent farmers in a better position. But this is always a tenuous relationship, since they are already so subordinate to capital and are wary of the low wages of foreigners. Of course, this is a gigantic debate with endless points and I haven't read enough about it yet to say for sure.
kwlafayette





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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are many petro chemical inputs to farming. It starts when you put it in the ground, possibly before. Some seeders require that you pre-work the field with another tillage implement, either late in the fall or early spring. So then we come to seeding. first you need clean seed, so you truck some of last years grain to the local seed cleaner. In Sask, that is electricity produced from coal that will power the seed cleaner. Most farm trucks are gasoline powered, the larger ones diesel. Then you truck it back and put it in the seeder, and put it in the ground, possibly followed by a pass with the harrow. Next you wait for emergence, and then for the majority of people it is time to spray. Again with the tractor burning diesel, plus the chemical itself is produced from oil. Then you wait till fall. At this point, depending on your circumstances and the crop, you can opt for a pre-harvest chemical application or swathing. Either one gets the grain dry enough to harvest. If you are lucky, you got it into the ground early enough to straight combine and can skip the swathing/dessication. Some crops like Canola, must be swathed green then picked up with a combine. After the combine, it is back in the truck.

As you can see, you are burning quite a lot of fuel at various times during the year, going around the field with tractors and other vehicles several times. Then how do you count summer fallow? You have to do 2 or three tillage trips, or1 or 2 chem applications to keep the weeds down, but there is no crop to take off. Does this count towards the energy return on energy invested for ethanol?
shavluk
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have to do 2 or three tillage trips, or1 or 2 chem applications to keep the weeds down, but there is no crop to take off---quote


thats because you shouldnt be touching the weeds,,,


all you need to deal with all of africa's needs is to let them grow hemp,cannabis,,





Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Hemp seen as fuel substitute

John Fennucio, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian
Hemp Car
Grayson Sigler, of Hampton, Virginia, shows off his 1983 Mercedes turbo diesel wagon that runs on fuel produced from hemp plants. Herer is advocating the use of this fuel.

AMHERST, Massachusetts — With gas and oil prices at an all-time high, the alternative solution for residents throughout Amherst and the country for energy is hemp.

Gas prices recently broke the $3-a-gallon mark for the first time in the region, which has drivers and residents who rely on gas for their cars as well as oil for heat struggling. The thought of hemp production as a cheap alternative to oil and gas is appealing because it can be converted to “biomass” that is in turn converted to energy.

“Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or gasoline at a fraction of the current cost of oil, coal, or nuclear energy,” said Jack Herer, a longtime hemp activist and author of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.”

In his book, Herer states, “Hemp stems are 80 percent hurds (pulp byproduct after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant). Hemps hurds are 77 percent cellulose - a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics and fibers ... an acre of full-grown hemp plants can provide from 50 to 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, kenaf, or sugar cane.”

Many people aren’t educated about hemp due to the illegal nature of its cultivation and its (strictly legal) association with marijuana. Bruce Montague, an employee of Amherst’s own Surner Heating Company, said in an interview last winter in response to the suggestion of using hemp energy, “I don’t think there’d be any benefit.”

According to Herer’s research, “Farming only six percent of the continental U.S. acreage with biomass [from hemp] crops would provide all of American’s gas and oil energy needs, ending dependence upon fossil fuels.” He added, “Each acre of hemp would yield 1,000 gallons of methanol. Fuels from hemp, along with the recycling of paper, etc., would be enough to run America virtually without oil.”

Herer explained the versatility of hemp by saying, “It can be grown in virtually any climate or soil condition on Earth, even marginal ones.”

Recent marijuana decriminalization laws in Amherst have lightened the penalties for possession of the plant. However, the association hemp has to the drug is possibly one of its biggest roadblocks towards legalization. With crystal methamphetamine presently the country’s largest drug problem, admitted by both state and local law enforcement agencies, the current administration is asking such agencies to focus their efforts on marijuana busts.

“Nearly half of state and local law-enforcement agencies identify ‘meth’ as their greatest drug threat, as more than 1 million Americans use the highly addictive drug, which is linked to violent crime, explosions and fires at ‘meth’ labs, severe health problems, and child and family abuse,” said Robert Dreyfuss in the Aug. 11 issue of Rolling Stone.

In a telephone interview with Herer, though he endured a stroke just a few years ago, was willing to discuss his views on “Big Energy.” He said, “All the energy companies bought up the coal rights and when gasoline runs out in our lifetime, within the next 40 years, these companies are going to feed us the coal substitute for the next 400 years!”
kwlafayette





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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obviously, someone who has never held a Wheat Pool quota book. If you leave the weeds, in your summerfallow, the yield on next years crop is hurt before you even begin. Farmers have been doing this for centuries, they know what works and what needs to be done. You could continuous crop instead, but then you replace summerfallow with fertilizer inputs.
shavluk
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

your sense of humor is a tad strange unless you really didn't read what was written
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Will ethanol production save Africa?

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