Boeing is collaborating with South African Airways (SAA) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) to expand opportunities for smallholder farmers in Southern Africa to grow crops for the sustainable production of biofuels.
The programme is part of a global effort by Boeing, RSB and other partners to help farmers with small plots of land gain access to markets for sustainable biofuels and biomaterials. In the coming months, Boeing and RSB will work with Southern African stakeholders to create pilot programmes to build knowledge and skills among groups of farmers who want to certify their crops as sustainable.
Over the long term, as Southern Africa gains capacity in this area, more farmers will be positioned to tap into demand for biofuel feedstocks certified to provide socio-economic value to communities without adverse impact to food supplies, fresh water or land use.
“SAA seeks to drive development of sustainable biofuel supply chains in a way that enhances our region’s economic opportunity from local agriculture and energy production. The joint project with Boeing and RSB is a first step toward the goal of ensuring that our efforts benefit smallholder farmers, given their importance to our country’s rural economy,” said Ian Cruickshank, SAA Group Environmental Affairs Specialist.
“A sustainable aviation biofuel industry presents a chance for this smallholder farming community to pursue economic development opportunities to positively impact their livelihood. As part of Boeing’s efforts to build better communities worldwide, we are working to ensure positive outcomes for the environment and for the people of Southern Africa,” said Lianne Stein, Boeing vice president of Global Corporate Citizenship.
“We will work with partners from across the region to identify how we can join together to help small farmers improve their production and income. Certifying small farmers is the surest way to ensure sustainable biofuels that not only reduce carbon emissions but also improve the livelihoods of rural communities,” said Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials executive secretary Rolf Hogan.
This initiative follows an October 2013 announcement that Boeing and South African Airways would collaborate to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. It is also aligned with a similar effort by Boeing and RSB to expand biofuel crop opportunities for small farmers in south-east Asia.
When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel emits 50 to 80% lower carbon emissions through its lifecycle (compared to petroleum fuel) because biofuel feedstocks absorb carbon dioxide during the growth cycle. Aviation biofuel refined to required standards has been approved for a blend of up to 50% with traditional jet fuel. Globally, more than 1 500 passenger flights using biofuel have been conducted since the fuel was approved.