Jatropha: Another means of economic diversification —Stakeholders

STAKEHOLDERS at the just concluded Environment Dialogue 1, with the theme ‘Diversification of the Economy: The Role of Jatropha,’ have stressed the need for governments at all levels to learn from the cassava experience where policy to encourage cultivation was not matched with viable strategy, leading to loss for the farmers.

Some of the stakeholders present at the conference include representatives from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Senate, House of Representatives, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as Nigerian farmers and organised private sectors, among others.

The programme which was organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment, held at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

According to the stakeholders, the value of Jatropha is not in doubt, as its advantages as a low maintenance fast growing multipurpose plant have been amply demonstrated. Jatropha has multi uses as a viable plant which can be used as animal fodder, border plant, soil replenisher and reclaimer, erosion control shelterbelt, electricity, security, conflict mitigator and for food and pharmaceutical purposes.

“There are challenges ranging from an absence of requisite knowledge at the community level, absence of cross sectoral synergy and coordination, inadequate funding of research and links to international learning, as well as an absence of a market and off-take strategy to guarantee farmers and a technology at its infancy,” they said.

They also added that “other challenges were the absence of quality control, poor access to land, weak human capacity and fear of policy discontinuity,” noting that community, research institutions and civil society equally have capacity gaps that needed to be addressed to maximise the bio fuel opportunity.

They, however, noted that opportunities exist for nurturing communities such as empowering youth and women, as well as increased income for farmers, existence of possible sustainable and guaranteed market structures as well as minimum land use that could be converted to cultivation of Jatropha without competing with food production.