It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and
receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food
shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one
of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand
hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the district of Lavumisa, which
happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and
more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a
team of development consultants is already doing the sums.
This is one of many examples of a trade that was described last month by Jean
Ziegler, the UN's special rapporteur, as "a crime against humanity". Ziegler
took up the call first made by this column for a five-year moratorium on all
government targets and incentives for biofuel: the trade should be frozen until
second-generation fuels - made from wood or ...