Cultivating clean energy in Mali: policy analysis and livelihood impacts of Jatropha curcas

Produced as part of the Governments, markets and climate change mitigation CCCEP research programme theme

Abstract of Working Paper 84

Fossil fuel depletion, energy security and climate change concerns have precipitated recent investment in biofuels. However, empirical case study data on the benefits and drawbacks of biofuels is lacking.

This paper presents new integrated mixed-method multi-level assessments of the potential for inedible biodiesel crop Jatropha curcas to diversify livelihood strategies and enhance energy access in rural Mali.

A combination of questionnaires, interviews and participatory methods were utilised in data collection. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a range of stakeholders, including government departments.

Data show that households involved with NGO or private sector activities linked toJatropha curcas cultivation gained financial capital and reduced household expenditure due to income from the sale of Jatropha curcas seeds and soap made from Jatropha curcas oil. Grown as a living fence, Jatropha curcas demarcates agricultural property, reducing land tenure conflicts and soil erosion.

Projects focusing on Jatropha curcas use for rural electrification offer potential to improve fuel and energy access. However, current supplies of biodiesel remain insufficient for these benefits to materialise and gaps between policy targets and actual yields were identified.

Ambitious land cover targets set within policy in relation to production could risk land use shifts away from food production and toward biofuels.