19 February 2013

Africa: Making Better Biofuels to Help Feed the World

press release

Energy crops are plants that can be used to make biofuels. The ideal crop can be grown quickly and densely with as little input as possible from farmers on land that’s otherwise unusable by agrarians. Once harvested, these energy crops can be converted into biofuel through various processes.

In late 2009, a U.S. energy agency awarded $5 million to Ceres, an energy crop company, to field test high-yield, low-input traits in grasses such as switchgrass, sorghum and miscanthus. Since then, the company has produced test grass yields with up to 50 percent more biomass than other grasses - a promising indicator of success. Above, a Ceres researcher evaluates the performance of biofuel crops.

Founded as a genomics technology firm in 1997, Ceres now applies the techniques used in the Human Genome Project to crops. The grasses that Ceres is developing are growing bigger using less fertilizer than other grass varieties. Hardier grasses also require less land to grow and could be planted in areas where other crops can't grow.

Ceres' work could be applied to food crops, allowing farmers to grow more crops with fewer resources, thus lowering the cost of food and increasing our ability to feed the growing world population.

Copyright © 2013 United States Department of State. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.