The Green Myth?

Cover of the publicationThere is an ongoing global debate on the positive and negative effects of biofuels. Jatropha curcas L. is frequently mentioned as a promising first generation biofuel crop. Based on claims that it can grow on marginal land and requires little water, nutrients and farm management, the assumption is often made that it does not compete with food crops. Based on extensive fieldwork, this study assesses the Jatropha value chain and its potential for pro-poor biofuel development in Northern Tanzania. After exploring the entire value chain and its end markets, a stakeholder analysis is conducted. Performance along the chain is determined by analyzing its three key determinants: competitiveness, governance and the enabling environment. Gross margin calculations and a SWOT analysis are provided for all relevant value chain activities. Finally, the potential for pro-poor biofuel development is assessed.

Conclusion

It is concluded that there is little knowledge on important issues such as production costs and feasibility compared to other crops. In general, Jatropha requires common inputs such as nutrients, water and farm management, thereby competing with food and cash crops. Furthermore, Jatropha is not immune to pests and fungi. Hence, it is not the promising biofuel crop it is said to be. Under certain conditions, the Jatropha value chain could contribute to pro-poor biofuel development in Northern Tanzania. An example is rural off-grid electrification and related services through Multifunctional Platforms that run on Jatropha. But for now the Jatropha value chain is still in an incipient stage.

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Jatropha Stakeholder Workshop

On Wednesday the 7th of May 2008 a Jatropha Stakeholder Workshop was hosted by SNV in Arusha, Tanzania. The goal of this workshop was to share the preliminary findings of the Jatropha study, bring together different stakeholders, identify important issues and discuss the way forward. The workshop was held in the City Link Pentagon Hotel in Arusha and sixteen stakeholders participated. The summary and the main presentation can be downloaded below.

Download Workshop Summary (288 KB)
Download Workshop Presentation (398 KB)

The author

Lode MessemakerLode Messemaker is an ambitious sustainability professional with ample project management experience. Professional experience includes project management at the City of Rotterdam, the City of Utrecht and Utrecht University, as well as the founding of a successful company. Furthermore, his experience includes organizations such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Consumer Association and the Royal Dutch Geographical Society.

Messemaker earned an MSc degree in International Development Studies at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, focusing on economic, social and environmental sustainability. During the master programme, Messemaker completed a four month internship for SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) in Tanzania. Earlier, he finished the BSc program in Human Geography and Urban Planning.

As vice president of the Utrecht Association of Geography Students (V.U.G.S.), Messemaker was responsible for fundraising, acquisition and external partnerships and chaired various committees. Furthermore, he was executive producer of the Dutch film "Wim Eggink" and was member of the board of directors at the USF student union. Currently, Messemaker is an active member of Jong'R (Young Rotterdam).

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Copyright © 2008 Lode Messemaker. All rights reserved.