Over the last few years, the Kenyan government, NGOs and industry have pushed the production of bio-diesel -- which is environmentally sustainable because it emits fewer toxic air pollutants and greenhouse gasses than petroleum-based fuels -- and many small-scale farmers have placed their hopes into oil seeds [like jatropha] as a new avenue to earn money. Initially, biofuel projects seemed to be a success, with farmers more than doubling their usual income.
…However, the farmers’ luck ran out in April when biofuel prices suddenly plummeted from an average of $10 per kilo to less than $0.5 per kilo. Biofuel research companies, producers and NGOs supporting the production of environmentally friendly diesel had created an artificially high demand for the seeds, which resulted a high pricing structure that could not be maintained in an open market in the long-term.
In addition, the development of regulatory policy frameworks and local infrastructure needed to manufacture bio-diesel took longer than expected. As a result,
…John Kioli, director of Nairobi-based NGO Green Africa Foundation, agrees that more money needs to be invested into small-scale biofuel production to turn around the downward trend in pricing. "For profitable and sustainable markets to be realised, local communities need their own processing plants that absorb locally available seeds. The guiding principle should be to use local raw material for local production and for local consumption," he explained….
Shown here, the top of a Jatropha plant as part of a hedge near Falan, Mali. The source of this image is www.jatropha.org (though I found it on Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License). The photo is by R. K. Henning Permission: The photos may be downloaded and published only with the citation of the name of the photographer and the website of its origin: www.Jatropha.org.