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Assessing the Availability of Land and Water Resources for Production of Energy Crops in Southern Africa

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DOI: 10.4236/jsbs.2012.23006    2,863 Downloads   5,865 Views  

ABSTRACT

Production of energy crops is perceived as a potential source of alternative energy for petroleum oil. However, it is cru-cial to ensure that there is adequate land and water available for production of energy crops before indulging into the business of producing such crops. This paper assesses the availability of land and water resources for production of energy crops in the SADC region using landuse/landcover data, hydrological and meteorological data, as well as socioeconomic data. It is found that Botswana and Mozambique have large amounts of bushland that can be used for expansion of agricultural land including production of energy crops. Zimbabwe has the highest amount of land under cultivation, which makes it difficult for the country to expand its agricultural land. However, land reform processes taking place in Zimbabwe provides a good opportunity to diversify agricultural production including reallocation of farms for production of energy crops. Mozambique has favorable rainfall for production of maize and sugarcane, whereas Zimbabwe can explore growing Jatropha on degraded land and use irrigation for cultivation of sugarcane. High frequency of crop failure in Botswana makes it difficult to grow maize or sugarcane as energy crop. The country can promote production of sweet sorghum, which is traditionally grown by small scale farmers, and explore production of Jatropha in degraded and desert land. A regional approach to address land and water requirements for production of energy crops is considered important as compared to planning for production in each country as the constraints and potential of each country can be fully recognized. More detailed country specific research is needed on the production of the specified energy crops to ensure sustainability of the production systems.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

K. Mfundisi, "Assessing the Availability of Land and Water Resources for Production of Energy Crops in Southern Africa," Journal of Sustainable Bioenergy Systems, Vol. 2 No. 3, 2012, pp. 37-42. doi: 10.4236/jsbs.2012.23006.

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