Boeing, South African Airways and RSB start efforts to help small farmers in Southern Africa grow sustainable biofuels
Mon 10 Mar 2014 – Following their agreement last October to work together on a strategy to develop and implement a sustainable aviation biofuel sector in Southern Africa, Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) are extending the collaboration to include the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). The three partners have announced an initiative to help smallhold farmers in the region grow crops to produce sustainable fuels. In December, Boeing and RSB held a three-day workshop in Kuala Lumpur with the aim of bringing together small farmers and local interests in Southeast Asia to educate and inform on sustainable feedstock practices. SAA has a target of having 50 per cent of its fuel uplifted at Johannesburg to be made up of sustainable jet fuel by 2023.
“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,” said Ian Cruickshank, SAA Group Environmental Affairs Specialist. “Our joint project with Boeing and RSB is a first step towards the goal of ensuring that our efforts benefit smallhold farmers, given their importance in our country’s rural economy.”
Under the Southern Africa initiative, Boeing and RSB say they will work over the coming months with stakeholders to create pilot programmes to build knowledge and skills among groups of farmers who want to certify their crops as sustainable. The partners will also help farmers with small plots of land gain access to markets for sustainable biofuels and biomaterials. In the long term, they expect more farmers to tap into a demand for biofuel feedstocks that provide socio-economic value to local communities without adverse impact on food supplies, fresh water or land use.
“A sustainable aviation biofuel industry presents a chance for this smallhold farming community to pursue economic development opportunities that would positively impact their livelihood,” said Lianne Stein, Boeing Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship.
Added RSB Executive Secretary Rolf Hogan: “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.”