Tool for comparative oil crop analysis

The FACT Foundation develops innovative projects and technologies to assist local communities in producing their own bioenergy. This enables these communities to save money for fossil fuels, increases energy availability and related business development and has therefore a positive effect on the local economy.
It is worth mentioning that within the FACT strategy, preference is given to available agricultural waste from industries above the land use related production of biomass. However, specific niches exist in which exceptions can be made on this strategy.
Several oil crops are currently under investigation in order to determine their technical suitability as an energy crop. Furthermore, oil crop production should be based on a sound economic base in order to determine its potential for success.
There is an increasing need for energy and biomass production is an interesting option in order to meet this goal. Production of vegetable oils for the production of liquid fuels is seen as one of this. Nevertheless many experiences of innovative projects on vegetable oil production did not lead to the expected results. This manual serves as background information for the excel sheet ‘Oil crop comparative analysis’ that was made as a tool for oil crop selection. In case an investor is planning to invest in oil crop production, this sheet will serve as a tool to carry out an economic comparative analysis. Note that parameters can be changed according to the local situation. Previous to this economic comparison a selection should be made based on agricultural, climatic and social factors.
There is a great variation in the way farmers tend their businesses. Because of this, it is impossible to make a generalization in farming practices without sacrificing precision.
Nevertheless an excel sheet was developed on order to compare 17 different (oil) crops based on their economic performance. Every crop is analysed for 3 different agricultural production systems (APS). The systems that are currently presented in this sheet; low input with family labour (APS 1), high input with family labour (APS 2) and high input with hired labour (APS 3) can be viewed as examples. A different system set-up can be made as well. Furthermore the sheet will always be used with local and up to date parameters (fewer estimated values), which increases its value for use.
Two food crops are included as a reference for the economic comparison; these are the common bean and maize. These crops can be used as reference crops in order to adapt the sheet to the local situation, since economic data on bean and maize are widely available. Moreover it will put the economic performance of oil crops in a wider perspective of opportunities.

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