Entry Title: "
Sweet Sorghum Ethanol and Power"
Category: Professional, CONCEPT
Designer(s): George Joannou
The Proposed project is called SSEP (Sweet Sorghum Ethanol and Power). It's the largest biofuel project in all Africa, on some 500,000 acres. Our company was the first to introduce the crop Sweet Sorghum into a scalable ethanol biofuel model. In fact, now the competitors are following suit because governments are turning their favor to this crop for many reasons. Among them are:
1. Sweet Sorghum produces more energy and takes far less water resources than Sugar Cane or Corn.
2. Sweet Sorghum is a sturdy crop that grows on marginal lands and requires little water or fertilizer. Hence, it lifts poor farmers, with no irrigation or heavy machinery, out of poverty.
3. Sweet Sorghum circumvents the 'Food for Fuel' debate because it is both food and fuel. The stalks are used for bio-mass and the grains are used for feed, beer, gruel, and other nutritional uses.
4. One of the by-products of the process is Bagasse, which can be used to replace charcoal. This promotes the conservation of trees that would otherwise be harvested illegally for charcoal to fuel cooking stoves in the rural areas.
CAMS is the only significant energy concern in Africa that is not doing a land-grab. Instead of acquiring land and compensating the local villages for vacating it, CAMS long-leases the land and employs the local farmers. For every hectare CAMS is issued via land-lease, CAMS provides seed, irrigation, technology, etc. for an equivalent amount of land owned by the local village. CAMS then becomes the off-taker for the grain that is not used locally (sorghum), and the biomass for ethanol.
It's an important relationship that uplifts the farmers who are among the poorest of the population (many living on $1 per day) The process entails going to the villages, meeting the elders, proposing the arrangement and letting them decide. There is no mandate from the central government.
Because CAMS includes locals in decisions regarding their land, CAMS has won the favour of local governments and has also been able to aggregate 205,000 hectares on a land-lease basis, more than any other firm. CAMS is also providing technology for another 205,000 for the locals to operate themselves. Besides providing badly needed clean energy, the social benefits are enormous.