Case study: Biofuel in Madagascar

Promoting sustainable biofuel

Some plants are well suited for the production of biofuels in Madagascar because of their ability to grow on marginal lands – lands that are inappropriate for agricultural production and do not have biodiversity value.
The jatropha plant (Jatropha curcas), for example, is one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production, especially as it is not a demanding crop in terms of soil impact and water needs.

Jatropha seeds produce an oil that can be used for cooking, lighting or generating electricity, or mixed with petrol or diesel to produce a biofuel. Many see jatropha as a lucrative crop for poor farmers and an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, rapidly increasing investments in the production of jatropha for oil and biodiesel since 2006 in Madagascar have raised serious questions about the potential risks on the environment and for food security.

This has resulted in the need to regulate the biofuel production sector.
	© R. K. Henning
The jatropha tree has large leaves, can grow to five metres tall and is able to thrive in any environment.
© R. K. Henning

Jatropha biofuel project

	© Manitra Rakotoarivelo
Jatropha nursery for bioenergy, Madagascar.
© Manitra Rakotoarivelo
WWF, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, has initiated a project in Madagascar to develop sustainable biofuel cultivation of jatropha, ensuring that environmental impacts are significantly reduced while production benefits local communities.

The project consists of 3 main activities:

  • Establish and implement a Sustainable Biofuel Platform that will gather different stakeholders, including the private and public sector, as well as civil society groups, to move towards a common approach for producing sustainable biofuels. The Biofuel Platform will make recommendations for developing a legislative framework on biofuels in Madagascar.
  • Develop a Civil Society Platform composed of different social and environmental NGOs in Madagascar to monitor bioenergy developments in the country, and act as a representative interface between the government, investors and local communities.
  • Develop a guide on the environmental and social impacts of biofuel investment that will serve as a basis to promote environmental performance standards in the development of biofuels.

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