The effects of biofuels on food security: A system dynamics approach for the Colombian case

Peer Reviewed
31 July 2019

Juan E. Martínez-Jaramillo, Santiago Arango-Aramburo, Diana P. Giraldo-Ramírez

There has been a growing interest in biofuel production to reduce oil dependence in the transportation sector. However, this has also sparked a debate on how the introduction of biofuels may jeopardize food security. In this paper we evaluate the effects of biofuel production on food security using system dynamics. First, we developed a system dynamics model to understand the long-term interaction between food production, biofuel production and livestock farming. Then, we calibrated and applied the model to the Colombian case. The base scenario results show that the introduction of biofuels to Colombia reduces the country’s agriculture-allocated land by 2030. This, in turn, leads to a decrease in food supply and an increase in food prices. Alternative scenarios suggest that policies focused on increasing land use efficiency, especially with livestock, could have a larger impact on food security and biofuel production in Colombia. This is due to the fact that said policies foster the co-existence of bioenergy and food production. Our simulation model could be relevant to other countries in order for them to assess their food policies and biofuel strategies. The model could especially be relevant in the developing world, where similar political and environmental conditions may be present.


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Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Martínez-Jaramillo, J. E., Arango-Aramburo, S., & Giraldo-Ramírez, D. P. (2019). The effects of biofuels on food security: A system dynamics approach for the Colombian case. Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, 34, 97–109. doi:10.1016/j.seta.2019.05.009

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Publication | 2 March 2020