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Special Issue "The Global Jatropha Hype—Drivers and Consequences of the Boom and Bust of a Wonder Crop"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Aklilu Amsalu (Website)

Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box, 150223, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Interests: land use change and related conflicts; effects of agro-investments; land and water management; climate change impacts and adaptation
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Annelies Zoomers (Website)

International Development Studies (IDS), Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, P.O. box 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Interests: sustainable livelihoods; land policies and the impact of privatization, tourism and international migration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleaues,

This special issue aims to collect case studies regarding the global Jatropha hype, which analyze in detail the boost and bust of this wonder crop in the context of different countries and under different business models. We will focus, in particular, on who created the hype (including the role of the media); the success of Jatropha producers in acquiring land (and how they managed to win against competing land claims); the characteristics of the investors and what they did do to promote their ideas and investment plans); as well as the consequences for local groups, national economies, and the environment.

To the extent that Jatropha production has indeed ‘boosted’ (and is now occupying considerable areas of land) there are basic questions that require scrutiny: what business models are used and what are current patterns of benefit sharing? In cases where investors have moved away from Jatropha, what were the reasons for this bust, and how was this framed? What happened to the land, and what kind of transformations have taken place instead (such inquiries have to account for the perspectives of local actors as well)? Looking at the Jatropha hype (or hypes regarding other wonder crops that, in the end, did not materialize), what can we learn? What enabled Jatropha to become so hyped? What narrative was behind the hype? What remains after the hype has gone, and how can new fads of the same ilk be prevented?

Leading questions:

  • What are the drivers behind the hype / what narratives?
  • Who are/were the actors and who enabled these investments? How was this promoted? What power relations are behind all these investments?
  • How much land was involved and how was this acquired?
  • What business model and what type of benefit sharing was utilized?
  • What has happened since the hype?
  • What are the social and economic consequences of the boost/bust?
  • What is the environmental impact?
  • What are the future prospects for Jatropha?

Time schedule

  1. Abstract submission (250 words): 11 October  2013
  2. First draft: 15 December 2013
  3. Final draft: 1 February 2014
  4. Publication: Spring 2014

Dr. Aklilu Amsalu
Prof. Dr. Annelies Zoomers
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Jatropha Developments in Mozambique: Analysis of Structural Conditions Influencing Niche-Regime Interactions
Sustainability 2014, 6(11), 7541-7563; doi:10.3390/su6117541
Received: 6 February 2014 / Revised: 22 August 2014 / Accepted: 17 October 2014 / Published: 27 October 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (793 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article investigates the transition dynamics related to Jatropha developments in Mozambique. The analysis focuses on how structural conditions (infrastructure, institutions, interaction and collaboration and capabilities and resources) enable or constrain interactions between niche-level Jatropha experiments and incumbent energy, agriculture and rural [...] Read more.
This article investigates the transition dynamics related to Jatropha developments in Mozambique. The analysis focuses on how structural conditions (infrastructure, institutions, interaction and collaboration and capabilities and resources) enable or constrain interactions between niche-level Jatropha experiments and incumbent energy, agriculture and rural development regimes in Mozambique. Investors in agro-industrial Jatropha projects focused on establishing projects in areas with relatively good infrastructure, rather than in remote rural areas. Furthermore, they predominantly focused on Jatropha production instead of investing in the entire Jatropha value chain, which turned out to be a challenge in itself, as growing a productive Jatropha crop was much more complex than initially anticipated. The development of institutions that could nurture and protect Jatropha projects from the prevailing regimes lagged behind Jatropha project establishment, leading to an insecure investment climate. Strong inter-ministerial collaboration and organized civil society interaction and representation contrasted with non-organized private sector and rather isolated smallholder Jatropha projects. The global financial crisis and limited adaptive capacity reduced the time and space for experimentation and learning to overcome disappointing crop performance. Together, this hampered Jatropha’s potential to challenge the energy, agricultural and rural development regimes. Nevertheless, the Jatropha experience did initiate the development of policy and regulation and stimulated interaction and collaboration between specific groups of stakeholders, which could provide the basis to capture future biofuel momentum in Mozambique. Full article
Open AccessArticle Local Perceptions about the Effects of Jatropha (Jatropha curcas) and Castor (Ricinus communis) Plantations on Households in Ghana and Ethiopia
Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 7224-7241; doi:10.3390/su6107224
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 10 October 2014 / Accepted: 11 October 2014 / Published: 17 October 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1572 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biofuel plantations have been hyped as a means to reinvigorate Africa’s rural areas. Yet there is still apprehension about the negative environmental and social impacts of large-scale commercial biofuel production around rising food prices, land grabbing, ecological damage, and disruption of rural [...] Read more.
Biofuel plantations have been hyped as a means to reinvigorate Africa’s rural areas. Yet there is still apprehension about the negative environmental and social impacts of large-scale commercial biofuel production around rising food prices, land grabbing, ecological damage, and disruption of rural livelihoods. Given the extent of Jatropha curcas production in Ghana and Ethiopia and Castor bean (Ricinus communis) in Ethiopia, this paper presents the results of a study that assessed the socio-economic implications of industrial Jatropha plantations on local livelihoods in Ghana, and of industrial Jatropha and Castor plantations on local livelihoods in Ethiopia. This study used primary data collected from 234 households in Ghana and 165 in Ethiopia. The cultivation of Jatropha and Castor has had several important effects on local livelihoods in the study sites, most notably decreases in household landholdings due to the arrival of industrial Jatropha or Castor plantations; and the resulting changes these plantations have caused in household socio-economic status, food security, fallow periods, and fodder availability. We consider how a lack of meaningful consultation between local people, their traditional authorities and the biofuel company managers, along with shortcomings in each country’s broader land acquisition process and poor land use information, may have contributed to these overall negative effects on local livelihoods. We conclude by suggesting several ways that emerging biofuel industries could be improved from the perspective of local people and their livelihoods. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Chieftaincy Institution in Ghana: Causers and Arbitrators of Conflicts in Industrial Jatropha Investments
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 6332-6350; doi:10.3390/su6096332
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 29 August 2014 / Accepted: 2 September 2014 / Published: 12 September 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (232 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Large-scale land acquisition in Africa has been the concern and the focus of growing global literature on land grabbing. The upswing in biofuel investments in Ghana led to large-scale land acquisitions by the private sector presided over by chiefs. This research investigates [...] Read more.
Large-scale land acquisition in Africa has been the concern and the focus of growing global literature on land grabbing. The upswing in biofuel investments in Ghana led to large-scale land acquisitions by the private sector presided over by chiefs. This research investigates how chiefs, in playing their traditional roles in the acquisition of land and as arbitrators, were, in most instances, the cause and the solution to the ensuing conflicts in the various communities. Data was collected through interviews, use of questionnaires and focus group discussions. Some of the conflict issues include loss of farmlands or other communal lands, disagreements on the land acquisition processes, the quantum and mode of execution of compensation payments and the existence or contents of social responsibility agreements. Furthermore, the use of negotiation, mediation and courts by people in these communities relative to arbitration by chiefs is increasing. The Government of Ghana needs to strengthen the public sector land institutions and put in place stronger and binding mechanisms for resolving disputes arising from large-scale acquisitions of land to cushion the effect of the weakening confidence in the chieftaincy institution. Full article
Open AccessArticle Economic and Social Sustainability Performance of Jatropha Projects: Results from Field Surveys in Mozambique, Tanzania and Mali
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 6203-6235; doi:10.3390/su6096203
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 8 August 2014 / Accepted: 29 August 2014 / Published: 11 September 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (831 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper presents results from comprehensive field surveys of jatropha projects in Mozambique, Tanzania and Mali in 2012. The article singles out the salient economic and social impact results and derives lessons. The results clearly demonstrate the weak business case for jatropha [...] Read more.
This paper presents results from comprehensive field surveys of jatropha projects in Mozambique, Tanzania and Mali in 2012. The article singles out the salient economic and social impact results and derives lessons. The results clearly demonstrate the weak business case for jatropha biofuel production at this time. Plantations were found to be unviable because of insurmountable up-front capital requirements in combination with slow and unreliable crop maturation, inefficient oil pressing owing to a lack of scale and experience, inadequate utilization of by-products, and competitively-priced fossil diesel and palm oil. For smallholders, jatropha only has limited value as a hedge crop in environmentally and economically disadvantaged areas. Better prospects have to wait for the advent of improved jatropha varieties. Social impacts from the perspective of project managers were rather mixed: overall, food security perceptions were positive and no massive forced human displacements were noted so far, though some disputes over land access and compensation were reported. Labor legislation was apparently respected on plantations, and positive gender effects, regional income/employment effects and better public facilities were also reported. The projects generated considerable employment, albeit mostly of a temporary nature, as lack of economic viability had caused many projects to close down again. When introducing next-generation biofuel projects, better monitoring by various actor groups is recommended, as well as long-term investment plans that include integral exit strategies. Full article
Open AccessArticle Biofuels for a Greener Economy? Insights from Jatropha Production in Northeastern Ethiopia
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 6188-6202; doi:10.3390/su6096188
Received: 16 July 2014 / Revised: 3 September 2014 / Accepted: 4 September 2014 / Published: 10 September 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (687 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many observers view Jatropha as a miracle plant that grows in harsh environments, halts land degradation and provides seeds for fuel production. This makes it particularly attractive for use in Ethiopia, where poverty levels are high and the degradation of agricultural land [...] Read more.
Many observers view Jatropha as a miracle plant that grows in harsh environments, halts land degradation and provides seeds for fuel production. This makes it particularly attractive for use in Ethiopia, where poverty levels are high and the degradation of agricultural land is widespread. In this article, we investigate the potentials and limitations of a government-initiated Jatropha project for smallholders in northeastern Ethiopia from a green economy perspective. Data are based on a 2009 household survey and interviews with key informants, as well as on a 2012 follow-up round of interviews with key informants. We conclude that the project has not contributed to a greener economy so far, but has the potential to do so in the future. To maximize Jatropha’s potential, interventions must focus mainly on smallholders and pay more attention to the entire biofuel value chain. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Effects of Biofuel Feedstock Production on Farmers’ Livelihoods in Ghana: The Case of Jatropha curcas
Sustainability 2014, 6(7), 4587-4607; doi:10.3390/su6074587
Received: 30 December 2013 / Revised: 5 June 2014 / Accepted: 9 July 2014 / Published: 22 July 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1163 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The widespread acquisition of land for large-scale/commercial production of biofuel crops in Ghana has raised concerns from civil society organizations, local communities and other parties, regarding the impact of these investments on local livelihoods. This paper assessed the effect of large-scale acquisition [...] Read more.
The widespread acquisition of land for large-scale/commercial production of biofuel crops in Ghana has raised concerns from civil society organizations, local communities and other parties, regarding the impact of these investments on local livelihoods. This paper assessed the effect of large-scale acquisition of land for production of Jatropha curcas on farmers’ livelihoods in Ghana. The study was conducted in 11 communities spanning the major agro-ecological zones and political divisions across Ghana. Methods of data collection included questionnaire survey, interviews and focus group discussions. Results show that several households have lost their land to Jatropha plantations leading, in some cases, to violent conflicts between biofuel investors, traditional authorities and the local communities. Most people reported that, contrary to the belief that Jatropha does well on marginal lands, the lands acquired by the Jatropha Companies were productive lands. Loss of rights over land has affected households’ food production and security, as many households have resorted to reducing the area they have under cultivation, leading to shortening fallow periods and declining crop yields. In addition, although the cultivation of Jatropha led to the creation of jobs in the communities where they were started, such jobs were merely transient. The paper contends that, even though the impact of Jatropha feedstock production on local livelihoods in Ghana is largely negative, the burgeoning industry could be developed in ways that could support local livelihoods. Full article
Open AccessArticle A New Jatropha curcas Variety (JO S2) with Improved Seed Productivity
Sustainability 2014, 6(7), 4355-4368; doi:10.3390/su6074355
Received: 20 March 2014 / Revised: 25 June 2014 / Accepted: 4 July 2014 / Published: 16 July 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (716 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One key reason for the failure of Jatropha plantation is the use of non-improved planting materials. We present in this paper a Jatropha variety (JO S2) through selective breeding with much better seed productivity than wild accessions as proven by field trials [...] Read more.
One key reason for the failure of Jatropha plantation is the use of non-improved planting materials. We present in this paper a Jatropha variety (JO S2) through selective breeding with much better seed productivity than wild accessions as proven by field trials in Singapore and India. In a single farm trial in Singapore for two years, a comparison was conducted with accessions from China, India, Indonesia and Africa. It was found that all traits studied like seed yield, seed kernel content, seed oil content, fatty acid composition, phosphorus content and PE content differed significantly among and within the wild accessions. Overall, JO S2 was the best performer with the highest seed yield, high oil content and low phosphorus content. On two sites in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, this Jatropha variety produced up to 2.95 ton/ha of dry seeds in the first year and up to 4.25 ton/ha of dry seeds in the second year, much better than the local variety control. We attribute its higher seed productivity to early flowering, better self-branching, more flower/fruiting bunches, more fruits per bunch and importantly, better uniformity among plants. This exemplifies that breeding has improved Jatropha seed productivity which will lead to better economics for Jatropha plantation. Full article
Open AccessCommunication Drivers and Consequences of the First Jatropha curcas Plantations in Mexico
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3732-3746; doi:10.3390/su6063732
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 19 May 2014 / Published: 10 June 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (995 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Jatropha curcas has received great attention and national support by Mexican authorities interested in promoting cash crops to alleviate poverty and rural crises. Thus, several states have implemented programs to sponsor its cultivation and research. This paper analyzes the policies generated by [...] Read more.
Jatropha curcas has received great attention and national support by Mexican authorities interested in promoting cash crops to alleviate poverty and rural crises. Thus, several states have implemented programs to sponsor its cultivation and research. This paper analyzes the policies generated by the Mexican government to promote the establishment of Jatropha plantations for biofuel purposes. The supporting schemes, the state-of-the-art national research and the environmental implications of establishing this new crop were reviewed to assess their impact on small-scale producers that participated in these programs. Scientific research on native germplasm indicates the existence of great diversity in Mexico, including non-toxic ecotypes, from which highly productive varieties are being developed. However, when the plantation programs started, producers were not technically or economically prepared to face the risks associated with this new crop, nor was there a good internal supply-chain. Consequently, some programs have been abandoned and the low productivity and income generated by the plantations have not satisfied producer expectations. Thus, there is a need to review the national strategy to support this crop and to develop a well-structured biofuel market in the country for the success of Jatropha plantations in Mexico. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Riding the Hype: The Role of State-Owned Enterprise Elite Actors in the Promotion of Jatropha in Indonesia
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3780-3801; doi:10.3390/su6063780
Received: 16 December 2013 / Revised: 17 April 2014 / Accepted: 12 May 2014 / Published: 10 June 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (643 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Within a few years following its ambitious promotion in 2006, the development of jatropha in Indonesia came to a halt. Claimed as a potential solution to problems in energy and poverty, the introduction of jatropha in Indonesia’s energy policy had been triggered [...] Read more.
Within a few years following its ambitious promotion in 2006, the development of jatropha in Indonesia came to a halt. Claimed as a potential solution to problems in energy and poverty, the introduction of jatropha in Indonesia’s energy policy had been triggered by the high oil prices in 2005. While studies by biofuel scholars have generally focused on what brought the end of the “miracle crop” hype by underlining various technical problems and the absence of market structure as the cause of its failure, few have examined jatropha as part of a policy-making trajectory, which began with, and was influenced by, the development narratives disseminated by individual actors. This article sheds light on the role of elite actors in the making of biofuel energy policy in Indonesia. Taking the case of the promotion of jatropha in 2005–2007, the article illustrates the role of the director of Indonesia’s leading sugar state-owned enterprise (SOE), Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI), whose decision in promoting jatropha became influential in forwarding its narratives into the national energy and development policy in 2006. In order to discover why a specific elite actor decided to promote jatropha, the article relies on data, including the SOE’s documents and interviews with key actor(s). The analysis is conducted using an actor-oriented approach, which underlines the discrepancy between the ideals and the operational practice of developmental goals. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Rise, Fall and Potential Resilience Benefits of Jatropha in Southern Africa
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3615-3643; doi:10.3390/su6063615
Received: 3 February 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 19 May 2014 / Published: 5 June 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (705 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Jatropha is the latest in a list of “miracle crops” that have been promoted in southern Africa for their perceived development benefits. This was based on promises of high yields, low water requirement, ability to grow on marginal land and lack of [...] Read more.
Jatropha is the latest in a list of “miracle crops” that have been promoted in southern Africa for their perceived development benefits. This was based on promises of high yields, low water requirement, ability to grow on marginal land and lack of competition with food. In less than 10 years, tens of thousands of hectares were acquired for jatropha plantations and thousands of hectares were planted, most of which are now unused or abandoned. Overestimations of jatropha yields coupled with underestimations of the management costs have probably been the prime contributors to the collapse of most jatropha projects in southern African. However, a few projects still survive and show signs of possible long-term sustainability. We consider two such projects, a smallholder-based project in Malawi and a large-scale plantation in Mozambique. Though their long-term sustainability is not proven, both projects may increase resilience by diversifying household income streams and contributing to national fuel security. By identifying what seems to be working in these projects we provide insights as to why other projects may have failed in southern Africa and whether there is still place for jatropha in the region. In essence can jatropha still enhance local/national resilience or are jatropha’s benefits just a myth? Full article
Open AccessArticle Stagnating Jatropha Biofuel Development in Southwest China: An Institutional Approach
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3192-3212; doi:10.3390/su6063192
Received: 22 November 2013 / Revised: 25 February 2014 / Accepted: 13 May 2014 / Published: 26 May 2014
PDF Full-text (324 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biodiesel from jatropha has been considered as a promising alternative to fossil fuels for some time. Consequently, China started promoting jatropha as one of the options to meet its ever-increasing energy consumption, and the Chinese biodiesel industry also gained interest. However, the [...] Read more.
Biodiesel from jatropha has been considered as a promising alternative to fossil fuels for some time. Consequently, China started promoting jatropha as one of the options to meet its ever-increasing energy consumption, and the Chinese biodiesel industry also gained interest. However, the excitement of the biofuel industry in jatropha faded after it did not bring about the expected results. This article investigates the stagnation in jatropha development and production for biodiesel in China, using two detailed case studies of jatropha biofuel production in southeast China. It is found that the underdeveloped biodiesel policy and regulation, such as a rather late formulation of standards for biodiesel (especially the B5) and the absence of mandatory targets, is an important reason for hampering jatropha development. Besides that, lack of financial support undermined sustained jatropha planting at the farm level and lack of sustained commitment from state-owned enterprises or private companies over a long time span further contributed to jatropha project’s failure. Better implementation of the rule of law, mandatory blending requirements, hazard insurance, as well as continuous financial support, might improve the continuation of jatropha plantation schemes. Full article
Open AccessCommunication Opportunities and Constraints of Promoting New Tree Crops—Lessons Learned from Jatropha
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3213-3231; doi:10.3390/su6063213
Received: 16 December 2013 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 14 May 2014 / Published: 26 May 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It is not uncommon that new crops suddenly attract a lot and international attention from private and public actors based on their acclaimed potential to contribute to sustainable development. Such sharp increases in attention can lead to big investments and promotion campaigns [...] Read more.
It is not uncommon that new crops suddenly attract a lot and international attention from private and public actors based on their acclaimed potential to contribute to sustainable development. Such sharp increases in attention can lead to big investments and promotion campaigns to domesticate and commercialize these crops at industrial scale. However, in many cases the research of these plants is still in its infancy and investors generally lack sufficient insight into uncertainties and risks related to their investments, which consequently hold sustainability risks. Full article
Open AccessArticle Trading in Discursive Commodities: Biofuel Brokers’ Roles in Perpetuating the Jatropha Hype in Indonesia
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2802-2821; doi:10.3390/su6052802
Received: 3 December 2013 / Revised: 24 April 2014 / Accepted: 25 April 2014 / Published: 13 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (669 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Hypes about wonder crops raise critical questions about the actors and mechanisms that link optimistic narratives about the crops’ potentials to actual production in the field. Jatropha curcas has been such a wonder crop, with a wide discrepancy between plans and reality. [...] Read more.
Hypes about wonder crops raise critical questions about the actors and mechanisms that link optimistic narratives about the crops’ potentials to actual production in the field. Jatropha curcas has been such a wonder crop, with a wide discrepancy between plans and reality. While many studies focus on agronomic or technological explanations of discrepancy and how to decrease it, much less is known about the influence of specific actors on creating a gap between high expectations and actual production in the field. This paper highlights the role of commercial brokers, who link potential investors and their capital to land and labor in the production areas. How have such commercial brokers contributed to perpetuating the optimism regarding the potentials of Jatropha plantations? The article presents the results of ethnographic research in a case study of commercial biofuel brokers at work in Sumba, one of the marginal areas in Indonesia targeted by policy makers for Jatropha cultivation. The study indicates that these actors have assembled their own short-term projects, translated narratives about future potential activities into the objects of trade in the present and produced optimistic figures about their projects to attract investors. In the conclusion, the paper warns against the unintended effects of green biofuel policies and discourses, when the latter get translated into a business opportunity for short-term private benefits instead of for the social and environmental goals for which the policies were originally intended. Full article
Open AccessArticle Putting a Spin on Jatropha: How Conservationist Rhetoric Drove Bedford Biofuels out of Tana Delta-Kenya
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2736-2754; doi:10.3390/su6052736
Received: 16 December 2013 / Revised: 25 March 2014 / Accepted: 16 April 2014 / Published: 8 May 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (453 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
When the Canadian company Bedford Biofuels (BB) started talks with local ranch owners in Tana Delta district (Kenya) about subleasing their land for a large jatropha plantation, they were not the first ones to come to the region for a large-scale agricultural [...] Read more.
When the Canadian company Bedford Biofuels (BB) started talks with local ranch owners in Tana Delta district (Kenya) about subleasing their land for a large jatropha plantation, they were not the first ones to come to the region for a large-scale agricultural project. Nor were they the first to explore the possibilities of starting a jatropha plantation in Kenya’s coastal area. By the time BB arrived, nature conservation and humanitarian NGOs had firmly established themselves as protectors of the ecologically fragile Tana river delta (now Ramsar site) and its residents, who were argued to be (even more) marginalized by large-scale agricultural projects. During the decision-making process, therefore, BB encountered stiff resistance from local NGOs, which had acquired the experience and the mechanisms to oppose or discourage a large-scale plantation. Additionally, BB was faced with a central government which gradually moved from a pro-jatropha stance to a more critical view of large-scale jatropha cultivation. Nevertheless, most of the local residents as well as the local government administration and the county council supported BB’s plans to establish a large jatropha plantation. Although the deal was struck and the anti-jatropha campaign had ostensibly not prevailed, BB closed its plantation within the year. In the article, we analyze how discursive generalizations about foreign large-scale land acquisitions and in particular about large foreign jatropha plantations gradually undermined the legitimacy of the BB jatropha plantation in Tana Delta. To explore this question, the discussion focuses on analyzing the resources that account for the success of the anti-BB rhetoric and the interests that were involved in its production. These resources have been identified as local to global (I)NGO alliances; the use of e-media as a conduit for opposition rhetoric and the strategic use of rhetorical images and polemic. Each of the three phenomena will be explored for their conceptual dimensions and their rhetorical implications. We argue that the conservationist rhetoric compressed intermediality, the grid where ideologies and practices of different stakeholders intersect. Thus, it effectively narrowed the possibility for non-compatible stakeholders, such as Bedford Biofuels, to avoid conflict. This initiated a gradual erosion of the rationale of the BB jatropha project in Tana Delta, which eventually led to the closure of the jatropha project and the departure of Bedford Biofuels from the area. Full article
Open AccessArticle Pioneering in Marginal Fields: Jatropha for Carbon Credits and Restoring Degraded Land in Eastern Indonesia
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 2223-2247; doi:10.3390/su6042223
Received: 5 December 2013 / Revised: 18 March 2014 / Accepted: 24 March 2014 / Published: 16 April 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (754 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper highlights the role of a national Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Indonesia as “pioneer” actor in the jatropha global production network, linking solutions for local problems with narratives concerning global concerns. Analysis of previous activities of the NGO positions their jatropha [...] Read more.
This paper highlights the role of a national Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Indonesia as “pioneer” actor in the jatropha global production network, linking solutions for local problems with narratives concerning global concerns. Analysis of previous activities of the NGO positions their jatropha project as one period in a sequence of donor-funded appropriate technology programs. On the island of Flores in Eastern Indonesia the NGO aimed to establish community based jatropha cultivation exclusively on “degraded land”, avoiding threats to food cultivation, and responding to local problems of land degradation and water resources depletion. In contrast with investors interested in jatropha based biofuel production for export, the NGO aimed at developing biofuel for local needs, including jatropha based electricity generation in the regional state-owned power plant. Anticipating progress in international and national regulations concerning the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) the 2008 project’s design included carbon credit income as a main source of future project financing. Using methods of socio-legal studies and political ecology, this study indicates that when the economic feasibility of a project is based on the future financial value of a legally constructed commodity like carbon credits, the sustainability of the project outcome can be questionable. The author recommends precaution when it comes to including anticipated income from carbon credits in calculating the economic viability of a project, as price developments can fluctuate when political support and regulations change. Full article
Open AccessArticle Engineering the Jatropha Hype in Indonesia
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 1686-1704; doi:10.3390/su6041686
Received: 14 December 2013 / Revised: 16 March 2014 / Accepted: 24 March 2014 / Published: 2 April 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the actors, social networks, and narratives at national and global levels that have been contributing to creating a hype about Jatropha as a biofuel crop in Indonesia. Widespread concerns about climate change and the 2005–2006 rise of world crude [...] Read more.
This paper explores the actors, social networks, and narratives at national and global levels that have been contributing to creating a hype about Jatropha as a biofuel crop in Indonesia. Widespread concerns about climate change and the 2005–2006 rise of world crude oil prices had created the important momentum for promoting Jatropha based biofuel around the world. What have been the drivers behind this hype and which narratives have been spread? The paper discusses the difference between hypes and boom-and-bust patterns, and argues that the latter is not applicable to Jatropha, because a market for Jatropha products has not been developed yet. In terms of the actors’ contributions to this hype, the paper highlights the important role of engineers in mobilizing public support for Jatropha activities. Drawing on the results from interviews and secondary analysis, the paper reports how they have spread the news and claims through the Internet, creating public expectations about the potentials of the crop. Those narratives include one specifically Indonesian argument for supporting Jatropha cultivation appealing to the collective memory about Jatropha during the Japanese occupation period in Indonesia. Full article

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