Next Article in Journal
Genotoxic and Anatomical Deteriorations Associated with Potentially Toxic Elements Accumulation in Water Hyacinth Grown in Drainage Water Resources
Previous Article in Journal
Sustainable Production from Shale Gas Resources through Heat-Assisted Depletion
Perspective

Understanding the Implications of Alternative Bioenergy Crops to Support Smallholder Farmers in Brazil

1
Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
2
Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
3
Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5NG, UK
4
Laboratório de Mecanização Agrícola (Lama), Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa, Campus Uvaranas, Ponta Grossa/PR 84030900, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 2146; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052146
Received: 4 February 2020 / Revised: 29 February 2020 / Accepted: 3 March 2020 / Published: 10 March 2020
Smallholders constitute more than three quarters of the world’s farmers, and despite their numbers, they commonly lack opportunities to advance their development status. Bioenergy production and consumption can help sustain smallholders’ energy needs and generate employment and income, but it also raises concerns over social justice and equity, especially where crops used for bioenergy could also be used for food. This perspective paper is grounded in a literature review related to three different crops in Brazil: sugarcane, landrace maize and sweet potato. It seeks to determine if these crops offer the potential to support smallholder farmers’ development in a more equitable way, focusing on opportunities for their use in bioenergy. We review the literature to identify policies shaping the smallholder development context in relation to these crops, assessing whose knowledge informs policy and institutional decision making, and highlighting the policy attention afforded to the different crops from different sectors. We further evaluate the literature on each crop in relation to water use and calorific value (i.e., food and energy). Our review indicates that while sugarcane has received the most policy and institutional attention, its development is largely anchored in research and development investments that support large-scale commercial farms and agri-businesses. Smallholders have not benefited or had the opportunity to engage in relevant policy decision making for sugarcane cultivation. At the same time, smallholders hold valuable untapped knowledge on the cultivation of sweet potato and landrace maize, both of which have the potential to generate development opportunities for smallholders. Our review suggests that the environmental impact of landrace maize and sweet potato in terms of water use is significantly lower than sugarcane, while they can generate more calories for energy or food consumption and offer diversification opportunities. Despite that these alternative crops offer considerable untapped potential to support rural development, more research is still needed to harness these benefits. Changes are needed to address inequities in policies, institutions and the types of knowledge informing decision making. Such changes need to afford smallholder farmers greater recognition and participation in decision making, so that the distribution of benefits from the three study crops can reach them to support their development better. View Full-Text
Keywords: sugarcane; sweet potato; biofuels; development; landrace corn; landrace maize; water-energy-food nexus; policy-institutions-knowledge nexus sugarcane; sweet potato; biofuels; development; landrace corn; landrace maize; water-energy-food nexus; policy-institutions-knowledge nexus
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Sakai, P.; Afionis, S.; Favretto, N.; Stringer, L.C.; Ward, C.; Sakai, M.; Weirich Neto, P.H.; Rocha, C.H.; Alberti Gomes, J.; de Souza, N.M.; Afzal, N. Understanding the Implications of Alternative Bioenergy Crops to Support Smallholder Farmers in Brazil. Sustainability 2020, 12, 2146. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052146

AMA Style

Sakai P, Afionis S, Favretto N, Stringer LC, Ward C, Sakai M, Weirich Neto PH, Rocha CH, Alberti Gomes J, de Souza NM, Afzal N. Understanding the Implications of Alternative Bioenergy Crops to Support Smallholder Farmers in Brazil. Sustainability. 2020; 12(5):2146. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052146

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sakai, Paola, Stavros Afionis, Nicola Favretto, Lindsay C. Stringer, Caroline Ward, Marco Sakai, Pedro H. Weirich Neto, Carlos H. Rocha, Jaime Alberti Gomes, Nátali M. de Souza, and Nouman Afzal. 2020. "Understanding the Implications of Alternative Bioenergy Crops to Support Smallholder Farmers in Brazil" Sustainability 12, no. 5: 2146. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052146

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop