Last update : 28.10.2010
Jatropha: Wonder crop? Experience from Swaziland
Friends of the Earth
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The search for alternatives to fossil fuel has seen a rush towards biofuels. This is contributing to rising food prices and increasing concern about our ability to grow enough food and fuel. Despite social and environmental concerns and unproven climate benefits of biofuels, the EU has set a target of 10% road of transport fuel to come from biofuels by 2020. Against this backdrop, jatropha (Jatropha curcas) has been promoted by UK biofuel company D1 Oils as a wonder crop because of the plant’s ability to grow on marginal and semi-arid land, saying "it will not compete with food crops for good agricultural land". Local non-go vernment organisations (NGOs) have raised concerns about the social and environmental impacts of jatropha and studies have questioned some of the claims made about jatropha’s benefits. This report highlights those concerns for media and policy makers and questions some of the claims being made by D1 Oils and others for biofuel from jatropha. This report looks at D1 Oils’ activities in Swaziland, one of the countries where the company is leading the development of jatropha plantations. The report is based on first-hand evidence from farmers involved with D1 Oils and desk research on the impacts of jatropha. By revealing major problems with jatropha production as a biofuel crop, this report poses questions for policy makers who are relying on the plant as a part of a future sustainable biofuel mix.
Added on 2 June 2009
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