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The role of Jatropha curcas cultivation in livelihood strategies of small-scale households in rural Tanzania

Faße, Anja, Grote, Ulrike
Regional environmental change 2015 v.15 no.7 pp. 1203-1214
Jatropha curcas, biofuels, black pepper, capital, crop production, farms, households, humans, income, livelihood, off-farm employment, regression analysis, Tanzania
Jatropha curcas is cultivated especially by small-scale farm households as a bioenergy plant, but also as a supporting plant for spice production such as vanilla and black pepper. With the increasing worldwide demand for both biofuel and spices, Jatropha cultivation is expected to expand in the future. To explore its role in rural households’ livelihood strategies, a factor, cluster and a multinomial logit regression analysis were conducted using household data from rural Tanzania. Three different livelihood strategies were identified: (1) “subsistence farm households combined with unskilled wage employment”, (2) “farm households highly specialized in cash crop production”, and (3) “farm households specialized in cash crop production combined with skilled off-farm employment”. While households from Cluster 3 are better-off, those from Cluster 1 are the poorest. The income from cultivation of Jatropha/spices is significantly higher for the third cluster. However, for poorer households of Cluster 1, the share of income from Jatropha/spices has been quite significant with up to 30 %. The result of the multinomial logit regression analysis identifies human and financial capital, transaction costs and institutional factors explaining differences in livelihood portfolios. The results help shaping and targeting interventions to improve livelihood strategies of the rural poor in Tanzania.