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Farm Radio Weekly

1. Mali: Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain cautious

By: Idy Sy Diop, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Dakar

Faced with an intense government and industry campaign to grow plants for biodiesel production, Malian farmers have shown some interest but remain cautious.

Zoumana Dembelé is a farmer in Koutiala, in Mali’s Sikasso region. He has allocated 20 per cent of his land to Jatropha curcas, a plant used to produce biodiesel. But he will continue to grow cotton and cereals – cotton to make money and cereals for the survival of his family.

Mr. Dembelé explained that he will begin growing less cotton, since the market for cotton is no longer strong. But he will also remain cautious as he begins growing Jatropha curcas, commonly called jatropha.

The Malian government is encouraging farmers to grow jatropha for biodiesel because the country does not produce oil. Ahmed Diane Séméga is the Minister for Mines, Energy, and Water. Last September, he announced the government’s intention to replace a significant amount of Mali’s diesel use with biodiesel in the next decade or two.

At current prices, biodiesel made from jatropha is sold for a third of the price of regular diesel.
In some areas of southern Mali, jatropha has been grown for more almost a decade. It has been used to shield farms against wind and predators. Now, it is being planted as a cash crop.
But farmers have good reason to think twice before replacing their crops with jatropha. Cissé Seydou is a campaigner for a private company in the Sikasso region. He knows that farmers have been encouraged to start new products in the past, only to have it end in failure.

Farmers may also be discouraged by jatropha’s long growing cycle. It takes three years of cultivation from planting to harvest.

While farmers in some areas are being pressured to grow jatropha to meet the country’s energy needs, farmers in places like Keleya, also in southern Mali, have quietly begun using biodiesel to run their tractors and grinding machines.

Far from the hype of the government and industry campaign – biodiesel production remains on a small scale, serving local farmers and small rural industries.

Biodiesel is also catching on in the capital of Bamako and other Malian cities. Faced with the ever increasing cost of oil, some mechanics are adapting car engines for biodiesel, and some families and small business are using biodiesel power generators.

6 Responses to “1. Mali: Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain cautious”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Hi. Great article. This is a very interested topic.

    I notice that the words at the bottom of the article are “no comment”. Maybe this is confusing to readers – perhaps they don’t realize they can make a comment. Perhaps instead it should say “add your comment” Or “what do you think about this?” or “tell us what you think”.

  2. Kevin Says:

    This is a very interesting topic. It is great to get the view of the farmers. Normally, we only hear about what extension agents, researchers, or government officials think. It sounds like farmers are evaluating biofuels carefully.

  3. 1. Mali: Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain … Says:

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptHe has allocated 20 per cent of his land to Jatropha curcas, a plant used to produce biodiesel. But he will continue to grow cotton and cereals – cotton to make money and cereals for the survival of his family. … […]

  4. Mali » Blog Archive » Mali - Banking and securities Says:

    […] 1. Mali: Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain … […]

  5. Pages tagged "mali" Says:

    […] bookmarks tagged mali 1. Mali: Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but fa… saved by 5 others     gli0444 bookmarked on 02/13/08 | […]

  6. Farm Radio Weekly » Farm Radio Weekly Archive » Notes to broadcasters on jatropha: Says:

    […] the demand for biofuels: -“Herders oppose controversial sugarcane project” (FRW#29, July 2008) -“Campaign for biodiesel intensifies but farmers remain cautious” (FRW#7, January 2008) -“The promise and potential perils of biofuels” (FRW#3, December […]

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