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Bio-fuels Make Progress in the Developing World

ETHIOPIA / BIO-FUELS -- Environmental experts say the steep rise in the cost of oil imports and the overuse of the environment for energy sources, such as firewood, have many developing countries looking for alternatives. The experts say these countries are turning to agriculture and the cultivation of the forests in order to produce what are known as bio-fuels.

Debesaye Senbeto is a technology expert in forestry processing and has been working on inexpensive bio-fuels in Ethiopia, for use especially by the poor. Voice of America reporter Cole Mallard asked him about the main difference between fossil fuels and bio-fuels. Senbeto said fossil fuels are already naturally produced as petroleum products, whereas bio-fuels are mostly made of renewable energy sources such as wood, cereals, tree materials and or plant material products, such as plant oils and sugar cane.

Debesaye says regardless of the power and magnitude of the fossil fuel industry worldwide, renewable bio-fuel production is possible. He says if present day demand for agricultural production is redirected to supply the growing renewable bio-fuel industry, the cost will remain affordable, even to the poor. He says at the moment, because the industry is still developing, the research and development cost is outpacing the ability to make a profit using low-cost production techniques. But he says, “If they really use the modern technologies…this will alleviate the whole problem dealing with the supply of fuel, at least to the extent as a fuel [for the poor] for…household consumption.”