A Promising Development Model for Jatropha Biofuels Production in Africa.
E. N. Sawe-TaTEDO
TaTEDO participated in a meeting and public workshop held in Medan, Indonesia focusing on “Sustainability of global trade in biofuels and bio-products which was organized by Greenlight Biofuel Indonesia (GBI) and WIP of Germany from 14th -18th of March 2011, TaTEDO was represented by Mr. E.Sawe.
The workshop and the meeting form a major activity of the project on Global-Bio-Pact which began in February 2010 and is expected to last until January 2013. The events are important aspects of the development of biomass production and conversion systems for sustainability criteria. During the workshop, Mr. Sawe from TaTEDO presented a paper on Biofuel Production from Jatropha in Africa.
The paper informed that, solid biofuels are the main source of energy in African countries for cooking. Other forms of biofuels such as liquid biofuels, ethanol, biodiesel and Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO0 still account for small share of total energy supplies. Africa has a large potential for biofuels production due to large unused land and rural population. Some countries already produce ethanol, (Malawi, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia). Also few countries produce small amount of SVO from Jatropha, mostly for local markets while large scale production of biofuels in Africa is only beginning and most of the African countries are now developing bio-energy policies and projects.
Different biofuel feed-stocks can be used to produce biofuels in Africa. The biofuel feed-stocks with greatest interest are sugarcane for ethanol and Jatropha for SVO and biodiesel production. The focus of the paper was on liquid biofuels production efforts from Jatropha. Jatropha which has potential for biofuels production, has also been used as farm hedges, soap production and medicinal purposes for many years in several African countries. Jatropha, like other biofuel crops offers an opportunity for African countries to produce new cash crops for domestic and export.
Different Jatropha production, processing and marketing models are emerging in Africa. Such models include:
Stand Alone Large Scale Plantations:
Large scale Plantations contracting out growers:In this model Large scale Jatropha plantations have agreement with smallholder farmers to provide inputs and technical support for Jatropha production and in turn the plantations, buy all the seeds from small scale farmers. The potential for positive socio-economic impacts depend on a number of issues including the support and how fair the terms of contracts are.
Contracted small scale farmers producing for private Organizations/ Companies without farms: In this model biofuel companies enter into contracts with local farmers. The model involves smallholders who grow jatropha and contractually linked to a company for seed purchases. The companies do not involve any plantation-based production; instead, they source seeds solely from contracted local farmers and out-growers. These companies are producing oil for export and by–products are converted into jatropha products which can be used locally.
Independent small scale farmers in Cooperatives: In this model, Small scale farmers are organized in associations/ cooperatives to locally produce process and use oil for soap and energy production and also sell extra oil or seeds to local biodiesel producing companies operating at the district or regional towns. Farmers cooperatives could also have shares in such biodiesel production Companies. This model has highest positive Socio-economic and environmental impacts to African countries, as such should be given adequate support by all stakeholders.
Africa has more than 600 million smallholder farmers who could produce adequate food and biofuels for local and export needs. These farmers need to be supported to organize themselves into associations and cooperatives to access finance and other inputs to cultivate Jatropha and process it for oil (SVO) and biodiesel production, for which there is a huge demand locally and outside Africa. The farmers should be supported in order to form cooperatives and joint venture with districts based local biodiesel production company to meet growing biodiesel local demand and export.
Jatropha production through large scale plantations in Africa is growing rapidly despite several real and potential threats such as loss of rights to customary lands, marginalization of local people, negative environmental impacts, little public awareness and knowledge on Jatropha, lower food security due to land and labor competition, water conflicts in irrigation schemes e.g. in Kenya and absence of appropriate policy and regulatory framework.
Jatropha oil and biodiesel production could play important role in improving livelihoods of people in Africa but this will occur based on several transformations in the biofuel sector which should be supported by effective policies and legal framework. Local processing and use could provide modern energy services for greater employment, income generation, technological transfer, cleaner environment, energy security, gender equality and above all economic and social well being. Jatropha production in Africa, represent a growing industry. Challenge is to balance large scale producers with small scale local producers and users. This is possible if proper regulations with enforcement are in place.
Jatropha development in Africa would need to be produced in a sustainable manner, addressing issues such as, agronomy research on Jatropha and its byproducts, increasing the profitability of Jatropha projects, high-yielding Jatropha crops and sales of by products based on processing, agricultural land and labor competition. Other areas are scarce water resources, soil erosion, food versus fuel, trade, biodiversity concerns, policy, regulatory framework geared towards supporting smallholders, meeting local markets first before exporting and the national and local capacity for developing Jatropha industry at all levels. Other areas of consideration are financing facilitation in supporting smallholders and cooperatives, local production and use of Jatropha products. Market development need to be integrated in business models for households, community needs and local companies producing biofuels for local, national and export requirements. International collaboration and support is crucial for sharing good practices, capacity development and financing to enhance; large scale Jatropha biofuels production through smallholders in Africa.
TaTEDO has been working closely with several stakeholders and development partners in order to promote the cultivation and utilization of Jatropha plant through small scale farmers. In such efforts Jatropha oil is alternative fuel for powering diesel engines for various productive and consumptive uses. TaTEDO in collaboration with local partners has initiated projects for rural electrification using Energy Services Platforms (ESP). The ESP consists of engine, alternator, milling machine, and oil press and battery charger. ESP has been installed in Engaruka, Selela villages in Monduli District, Leguruki in Meru District, Laela village in Sumbawanga District and at TaTEDO centre in Dar es Salaam. Since the engine can use both diesel and Jatropha oil, when available and local management is right the engines runs on straight vegetable oil to power engines for electricity generation and other components for provision of modern energy services. In all these villagers, straight Jatropha oil is pressed from seeds bought from the small scale farmers. Electricity is distributed to the villages from the ESP centre through mini-grids constructed in the villages using locally available materials and manpower. Villagers have been using ESP electricity as an alternative source of energy for lights, radios, charging phones and charging batteries. These are the direct benefits to villagers who have been connected to ESP powered by Jatropha oil and have responsibility for managing the jatropha ESP system. Many thanks for our development partners, the EU, HIVOS and the Norwegian government, the pilot efforts are being scaled up to more than fifty villages.
Since Jatropha plant itself is drought resistant, it can grow in marginalized and unfertile soil though with marginal yield. A number of efforts have been made at local level such as supporting small scale farmers and other stakeholders to engage and grow Jatropha in multitude, since SVO holds great promises for the rural communities.
African countries need to take appropriate action in formulating and implementing effective biofuels policies and regulations. Criteria and issues for consideration in developing biofuels production and use policies should include, sustainability criteria for local and national biofuels development and use, pro-poor policies to protect and empower small scale producers, fair trade practices at all levels, establish local and national biofuels markets and Integration of biofuels development with other development initiatives aiming at self sufficiency in food and fuels at the national and local levels. It is important to give priority to smallholder farmers and local markets for rural electrification, water pumping, transport and agro fuels thus ensuring rural livelihoods improvement, national economic growth through the development of biofuels processing industry at different levels.