Francis Molua Mwambo (BiomassWeb junior researcher from Cameroon) won the prize for the best paper presented at the conference on “Ethics of Food Security in a Changing Society – Learning from the Past to Shape the Future” in Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, United Kingdom, on September 24. The paper entitled “Assessing the ecological-societal impacts of West African farming practices by means of energy efficiency” is part of the ongoing research in BiomassWeb work package 4.6 on Energy Efficiency.
In West Africa agriculture is dominated by small-scale farming, where labour is mainly manual or animal powered. This is embedded into the concept of shifting cultivation in combination with slash-and-burn practices in which the fallow period is progressively becoming shorter. Together with a greatly increasing demand for food from the fast growing population, the practiced low-input farming leads to fast dynamics of land use change with considerable impacts on biodiversity, but also on future food and water security. In the project BiomassWeb (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research), concepts for a better efficiency in use of locally produced bio-resources by means of value clusters are developed. The study presented here assesses the impact of different agricultural production systems and connected resource processing schemes using energy efficiency as a proxy and will relate this to the provision of public goods and ecosystem services. The aim of the study is to conceive a comprehensive and scale-sensitive assessment framework that supports consulting land use, but also decisions to which extent and at which scale (local / regional) processing of bio-resources should be combined with the primary production. In this presentation, a first approach on how to structure the assessment framework and how to consider scale effects is presented.