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locations India, Mexico, Mali, Burkina Faso dates June 2009 – February 2013 project team Marc Kenis Tim Haye Carol Ellison Steve Edgington Sean Murphy

investigating the impacts of Jatropha curcas production

As fossil fuel prices increase and concerns about climate change grow, bioenergy crops have gained international prominence.

so what’s the problem? Increasing demand for bioenergy crops could lead to conflict, particularly in the tropics where the need to produce food is paramount. Growing such crops could also lead to increased deforestation, where large scale forest land conversions are initiated. Some think smallholder farmers could incorporate the production of bioenergy crops into their current land use systems, growing such crops alongside food crops without jeopardizing their own food security. This would increase the smallholders’ cash flow and enable them to intensify food production.

Jatropha curcas is a Euphorbiaceae (from the spurge family), native to Central America and cultivated throughout the tropics. Its seeds are rich in oil (27–40 per cent) which, using low-tech extraction techniques, is suitable for biodiesel. The plant is being promoted in several regions worldwide and especially in the two primary project countries, Mexico and India. Following insurgent activity in the planned field work area in India, in 2010 project activities were moved to Mali, and then, after the coup d’état in Mali in March 2012, to Burkina Faso. In Mexico, where the plant is native, it is traditionally planted as a hedge. Large scale planting was initiated in 2006, particularly in Chiapas and Veracruz. In India, large-scale land conversions to Jatropha have been initiated in several states. In Burkina Faso and Mali farmers have been encouraged to plant Jatropha as part of an intercropping system or as hedges, with support from local extension workers. So far, however, little is known about basic agronomy and ecological impacts across different agro-eco-regions.


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what is this project doing? The primary project involved six partner teams from Mexico, India, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, with specific additional input from partners in Mali and, in the final year, Burkina Faso. The aim was to assess the profitability, economic, social and environmental impacts of the production of the bioenergy crop Jatropha. The data obtained should enable us to identify the most suitable eco-regions for maximizing yields, taking into account different pests and diseases, production methods (smallholder versus large-scale planting), and economic, social and environmental production risks. A further objective was to identify shortfalls in land tenure systems or law, and develop legislation to ensure the social sustainability and equity of future bioenergy projects. Studies on Jatropha were carried out in Mexico (Chiapas and Veracruz), northern India (Uttar Pradesh), Mali (Sikasso and Koulikoro) and Burkina Faso (Sissili). Where possible, three eco-regions along rainfall gradients were chosen in each country for the study. Activities were divided into three work packages: • categorization of existing bioenergy systems • assessment of environmental impacts • socioeconomic impact assessment and dissemination

results so far The project is continuing, and data is still being analyzed. The main findings to date include: • Jatropha production in parts of all regions is being seriously curtailed by insect and pathogen attack • low price of Jatropha seed and labour competition are the main concerns among producers with established crops • there is no evidence that Jatropha is an invasive species in the study areas in Africa partners Centro Tecnológico Forestal de Catalunya, Solsona, Spain Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales y Agropecuarias, Veracruz, Mexico Katholieke Universiteit Leuven UTTHAN, Allahabad, India Mali Biocarburant and Faso Biocarburant Mali-Folkecenter sponsors Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC)

contact CABI, Rue des Grillons 1, CH-2800 Delémont, Switzerland T: +41 (0)32 421 4870 F: +41 (0)32 421 4871 E:

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Marc Kenis, Project Manager

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