Date Posted: January 21st, 2008
If you have heard or read anything about biofuel production in the last year or so, you have probably heard about the plant Jatropha curcas, or simply jatropha. As our special report from correspondent Idy Sy Diop explains, jatropha can be processed into biodiesel, which is currently much less expensive than regular diesel. In Mali, a litre of biodiesel costs FCFA 150 (US$0.33 or 0.23 Euros) against FCA 510 for regular diesel (US$1.12 or 0.78 Euros).
There has been a lot of excitement about jatropha because it can grow in semi-arid regions where other crops cannot. However, the farmers from our news story are not alone in their scepticism about the plant. Many food security advocates are concerned that if farmers are pushed into growing jatropha or other biofuel plants, they may not produce enough food for their families and communities.
For more information on jatropha, please see the DCFRN script entitled Jatropha – Not Just a BioFuel Crop! (Package 80, Script 7, March 2007):
If you would like to research a local story on biofuel production, you may wish to ask some of the following questions:
-What do farmers in your area think about the idea of selling crops for biofuel production?
-If a biofuel processing plant is planned for your area, how do farmers plan to maintain their food security while also producing crops for the plant?
-If there is already a biofuel processing plant in your area, are small-scale farmers contributing to production? How do they rate their experiences in working with the processing plant (e.g. support for proper harvesting and storage, prices for crops, etc?)