A multi-factor evaluation of Jatropha as a feedstock for biofuels: the case of sub-Saharan Africa

Document Type: Review Paper


Chinhoyi University of Technology, School of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, P. Bag 7724, Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a geographical region consisting of 49 countries, out of which, 39 countries have experiences with the cultivation of Jatropha curcas L. Since the year 2000 Jatropha production escalated in the region and peaked in around 2007/2008. The major drivers of this trend were claims made about Jatropha including include its ability to grow on marginal lands, high seed and oil yields, and drought tolerant, amongst other attributes. However, the reality has shown that these attributes have not been realised.  The objective of the present paper is to analyse the performance of Jatropha as a biofuel feedstock in SSA based on agronomic, economic, social and environmental factors involved in its production. Evidences in SSA show that the major challenge with Jatropha cultivation has been low seed yields, ranging between 0.1 and 2 t/ha. This in turn has led to oil yields which are not sufficiently viable for use in production of biofuels such as biodiesel. There have also been reported challenges with production on wastelands, low use of inputs, unimproved planting materials and vulnerability to pests and diseases. These have negatively affected the performance of Jatropha causing the original claims made about this energy crop not materialised in the SSA.

Graphical Abstract

A multi-factor evaluation of Jatropha as a feedstock for biofuels: the case of sub-Saharan Africa


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