Integrating bioenergy and food production - A case study of combined ethanol and dairy production in Pontal, Brazil
Journal article, 2011
Increased Brazilian sugarcane ethanol production is expected in response to increasing domestic and
international ethanol demand. The Pontal do Paranapanema region, located in the western parts of the São
Paulo state, is one of the regions where sugarcane is expected to expand on a large scale. This expansion will
most likely affect small-scale dairy farmers in the region and may lead to displaced milk production.
Interviews have been made with small-scale dairy farmers in areas where sugarcane has already been
established. These interviews show that many farmers who substitute milk production for sugarcane
production experience economic stagnation after the change. However, both systems can coexist, using
sugarcane residues as high-quality cattle feed. This feed can easily be made at the ethanol mills using
sugarcane residues and some additional protein and mineral supplements. Analyses indicate that the dairy
farmers can increase their income ten-fold by adopting this integrated system. The increased total output and
higher land-use efficiency in dairy production may counteract possible indirect land-use change. Greenhouse
gas emissions per unit of milk produced as well as liter ethanol produced depend on several factors, including
effects of diverting bagasse from other uses to feed production.
Greenhouse gas mitigation