Economic Development

Ethanol made from the cassava shrub could help reduce poverty in Tanzania.


In addition to reducing dependence on foreign oil, many countries expect the biofuel industry to fuel economic development in poor, rural areas. For example, experts at the International Food Policy Institute (IFPI) say in Tanzania, ethanol made from a shrub called cassava can help reduce poverty in that West African nation where 80 percent of the labor force is farmers [source: Arndt, Pauw and Thurlow].

Tanzania is one of the poorest nations on the planet. IFPI experts say that government investment in the biofuel industry might lower Tanzania's poverty rate by 5 percent in the next 10 years. However, there is a downside. Shifting crop production from food to fuel could cause a decline in food supplies and a spike in prices [source: Arndt, Pauw and Thurlow]. As a result, governments need to pay attention to how biofuel crops are grown to ensure an adequate supply of both food and biofuel crops.

Closer to home, the biofuel industry can help local communities by providing well-paying jobs for individuals and economic development for municipalities. According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, by 2022, the biofuel industry is expected to create 190,000 direct green jobs and 610,000 indirect jobs [source: Runyon].