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Title: Jatropha curcas as a livelihood diversification strategy in Malawi
Author: Dyer, Jennifer Clare
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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Interest and investment in biofuel production is growing in response to political and economic drivers associated with concerns over fossil fuel depletion; the need for energy security; greenhouse gas emission reduction demands; and the perceived potential for biofuel production to contribute to rural development and poverty alleviation. Despite this, empirical data on the impacts of biofuel crops are limited and their potential role in enabling livelihood diversification activities in sub-Saharan Africa is under-explored. Addressing this gap, this research takes an integrated case study approach to assess the impacts of different Jatropha curcas cultivation models on rural livelihoods across a range of study sites in Malawi. The research develops and adopts an integrated research methodology that combines the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) with the diffusion of innovation model, using participatory and conventional social science research methods to achieve a multi-scale analysis spanning from local to national levels. Findings show that the overall approach to cultivation (from planting method, through production and processing to marketing) is more important in providing a livelihood contribution than the model of cultivation used. When Jatropha is promoted as a boundary fence, the crop and its by-products (such as seedcake fertiliser) can contribute to all 5 livelihood asset groups (natural, physical, financial, human and social capitals): directly or indirectly through financial capital substitution. However, a complex set of factors are involved in farmers' adoption decisions, .which intimately link the livelihood context, communication channels and the characteristics of the innovation itself. This results in varying numbers of households cultivating the crop in the case study villages. In addition, constraints identified at the local to national level mean livelihood benefits are yet to be fully realised. Communication amongst the diverse range of stakeholders involved in Jatropha cultivation in Malawi is characterised by isolated networks, individuals and groups at the local to sub- national level. At the national level, the private sector dominates policy dialogue. Moreover, relevant legislation and policy is absent, hindering the development of the sector. Policy recommendations and action points for actors are presented in order to address these constraints. At the national level, it is recommended that the government of Malawi should prioritise rural development as a policy goal for the future of national biofuel production and take steps to develop a coherent biofuels policy which is fully integrated into national development policies. At local to sub-national levels, stakeholder communications must be improved in order to facilitate knowledge management and governance of the sector, and investments must be made in the extension services network.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available