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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on jatropha:

Farmers across Africa are weighing their options for biofuel crop production. The rising cost of fossil fuels has created high demand for biofuels – fuels made from plant or animal sources – and large biofuel companies are visiting rural areas, looking for farmers to supply the biomass. Our special report from Nourou-Dhine Salouka of Jade Productions describes how one group of farmers is resisting the call of large biofuel companies and planning to open a local biodiesel plant. By taking this approach, farmers in the Nayala province of northwestern Burkina Faso address two common concerns about the production of crops for biofuels – that it reduces food security by switching land from food to biofuel production and that the wealth created from biofuels will not be enjoyed by farmers.

The following articles from past issues of FRW look at how farmers in other parts of the continent are responding to 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 2007)

This Farm Radio International script describes some alternative uses for jatropha, beyond the production of biodiesel:
“Jatropha – Not just a biofuel crop!” (Package 80, Script 7, March 2007)

If you’re looking for more information, you may wish to visit the following websites:
-The website for the International Consultation on Pro-poor Jatropha Development, an event held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development this past April. The event featured perspectives on biofuels from various countries, as well as discussion on the conditions necessary for biofuel production to benefit rural residents: http://www.ifad.org/events/jatropha/index.htm
-The website of the Centre for Jatropha Promotion & Biodiesel, which includes detailed information on jatropha cultivation and business plans for jatropha farming and biodiesel processing: http://www.jatrophaworld.org/index.html

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 producing crops for biofuel production?
-Do farmers in your area currently produce biofuels for use on their farm or in the community? If so, what is the local organizational structure that manages the fuel production?
-If an external company plans to open a biofuel processing plant in 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)?

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