AGROED: bioenergy at the service of african development

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The new french industry will begin its activites in Mali and Burkina Faso. Producing bioenergy while contributing towards development in developing countries. This is the first on the wish list of the French Agro Energy Development company (Agroed) which wants to induce the culture of jatropha, a virtuous circle of local development while satisfying increasing energy needs of african countries.

Driven not only by profits but development as well. Not forgetting sustainable development. These words summerise the policy of the up and coming French company, Agro Energie Developpement (Agroed). The company was created in 2007 and already “sees itself as a future reference in bioenergy development in the developing world” states the president of the supervisory board of the company Claude Sabin.

“One of Agroed’s main objectives is to mainly produce energy from jatropha, in developing countries, mostly within Africa and also Asia and Latin America, by taking advantage of a partnership system dependent on public-private co-operation, entire states and village communities as well as other channels which allow for a virtuous development circle” says Christiane Livoinniere, agroed’s spokes-person.

She goes on to say that the central point of this project is the Jatropha plant and also (under close observation) the ever increasing oil prices which aims at bringing poor countries to a standstill. In three quarters of countries on the African continent, energy issues are linked to electricity outages and fuel shortages.

The Jatropha plant has been used since time immemorial as hedge. Its fruit however has been found to produce an interesting biofuel with its properties close to those of diesel. Capable of being cultivated on semi arid lands, it is inedible for both humans and animals but an excellent pesticide. Most importantly, products from this plant can play a major role in a village economy”.

Inducing a vituous local development circle

The transformation of the jatropha into biofuel does not penalise local communities in what concerns food production despite it being extracted from maize. The production of bioenergy will contribute largely to the production of essential provisions linked to sowing in farming communities” adds Jean Claude Sabin.

“We have planned to grow ground nuts among the jatropha plants… the plant will contribute to the fertilisation of the mostly unexploited lands. Moreover, this plant in the final analysis could help eradicate deforestation or prevent it”… He continues.

Two years of research and experiments substantiated by the success of a pilot projet conducted in Mali saw to the birth of Agroed. “Fuel produced by jatropha will be at the same price, wealth will however be created and host countries will be geared towards future energy independence”. One hectre of jatropha produces a tonne of oil and two tonnes of crabs. A litre of oil equals a litre of gasoil and fifteen tonnes of crabs allows for the production of 2.7 million kwh, thus providing daily electricity needs of 6000 people.

To put its future projects to good use, Agroed depends on a renowned expertise and as confirms Christine Livonniere, one of the main advantages of the company being the involvement of nimble and expert hands. In the first place is Jean Claude Sabin, a former vice president of FNSEA the company responsible for biofuel in france. He is also a major player in the organisation of french subsidiary of oil producing crops. A knowledge acquired over thirty years that he wants to share with africa.

The company will also be working hand in hand with the French Agency for Development as well as the international fund for agricultural development “who will organise training programmes for native populations and also contribute to the set up of small scale infrastructures, e.g. roads and hydraulic systems.

Activities which begin in both Mali and Burkina faso will start off with a scheduled meeting to deliberate on the development of biofuels in Africa in the Burkinabé capital. In Mali, 30000 hectares of unexploited land is earmarked for the first part of programme with its first harvest expected in eighteen months, after undergoing a full production cycle from scratch.

Projects started by Agroed in every country is to be supported by local affiliations who are in turn encouraging local investors to participate. Countries that are involved in the project so far include, Benin, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinee, Senegal and Togo.

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