Food Security

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 953–971 | Cite as

Household food security and biofuel feedstock production in rural Mozambique and Tanzania

  • Stephen ThornhillEmail author
  • Eszter Vargyas
  • Tony Fitzgerald
  • Nick Chisholm
Original Paper


The ongoing debate over the impact of biofuels on food security makes it difficult for governments to develop clear policies for an industry that can enhance rural employment and help to alleviate rural poverty, but may also reduce food availability and raise food prices. Whilst there have been many studies reporting a wide range of global commodity price impacts arising from the sharp rise in biofuel use over the past decade, there has been less evidence on food security impacts at a local level in developing countries. Where evidence does exist the impact is difficult to assess, often due to different types of production models and feedstocks, but also due to weaknesses in the methodologies and measures of food security used. This paper aims to help address this evidence gap by analysing household survey data from sites close to different types of biofuel operations in Mozambique and Tanzania, using an index that measures key macronutrient and micronutrient deficits at the household level. The results show that those households with employees in medium to large-scale biofuel feedstock operations achieved significantly higher food security outcomes than other households in the same locations. Furthermore, most of the households with better food security outcomes reported an improvement in food security since the biofuel operations had been established and attributed this mainly to increased and more regular income from salaried employment.


Biofuels Food security Outgrowers Plantations Mozambique Tanzania 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Siwa Msangi at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Kimberley Pfeifer at Oxfam America, Annie Sugrue at EcoSasa Developments and Anne Bogdanski at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, as well as the researchers at University College Cork, University of Dar es Salaam and Eduardo Mondliane University and the translators who assisted so ably with the survey work. Thanks also to the participation of biofuel company staff, and, most importantly, the families who participated in the household surveys at the various field locations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Thornhill
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eszter Vargyas
    • 2
  • Tony Fitzgerald
    • 2
  • Nick Chisholm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Business and DevelopmentUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.School of Mathematical SciencesUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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