Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Biogas Boom: Germany needs grains from abroad



[My translation below - original article in German at http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/0,1518,808009,00.html - Almuth]

Biogas Boom

Germany needs grain from abroad

Poor harvests, high prices and the increase in maize cultivation for biogas digesters could create a new situation for Germany. According to one prediction, this year Germany could import more grain from abroad than it exports - for the first time in 25 years.

Frankfurt am Main/Hamburg - This year, Germany could become a net importer of grains. According to a report published in the newspaper 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung', Germany is likely to require net grain imports for the first time in 25 years. The newspaper cites Georg Keckl, an expert in agricultural statistics. "We are increasingly seeing the displacement of grain production by maize grown for biogas digesters", explains the head of Lower Saxony's department for agricultural statistics.

The degree to which Germany is self-sufficient in grain - which compares consumption with domestic production - has declined by 96% during the current agricultural year 2011/12, according to Keckl. Experts from the Information Service for Agricultural Markets (AMI) also believe that it is possible that imports will exceed experts. According to market analyst Wienke con Schenck, several factors suggest this. During 2011, cereal harvests were 2.5 million tonnes lower than during the previous year. Food processors are turning to cheaper imports from outside the EU because the price for German cereals has been high, partly due to the poor harvest.

A rise in imports is also due to the bioenergy boom. Maize cultivation is increasing disproportionally compared with grain production.

Von Schenck also stresses that Germany already depends on cereal imports in some sectors. For example rye and high quality wheat are already being imported. So far, however, cereal exports have exceeded imports, according to von Schenck. Between July 2010 and June 2011, 11.4 million tonnes of cereals were exported and 8.4 million tonnes were bought abroad.

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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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