Main content area

Towards a classification of the drivers of jatropha collapse in Ghana elicited from the perceptions of multiple stakeholders

Ahmed, Abubakari, Campion, Benjamin Betey, Gasparatos, Alexandros
Sustainability science 2019 v.14 no.2 pp. 315-339
Jatropha, biofuels, business planning, energy, fuel production, household surveys, interviews, rural development, stakeholders, sustainability science and engineering, Ghana
Jatropha for biofuel production created high expectations in Ghana for boosting rural development and national energy security. In the mid-to-late 2000s, large areas were allocated across the country to jatropha investments that eventually collapsed. Jatropha collapse has been prevalent across Africa but few studies have empirically addressed the (a) drivers of jatropha collapse (b) post-collapse impacts, and (c) future acceptability of jatropha. Through household surveys and expert interviews, we capture the perceptions of key stakeholders in Ghana involved in the biofuel sector at the national/regional level and local communities around six collapsed jatropha projects. Key drivers of collapse include the (a) low jatropha productivity, (b) weak business planning, (c) community conflicts, (d) institutional barriers, and (e) civil society opposition. Land-related issues are central to almost all of these drivers of collapse. While there is currently considerable scepticism among stakeholders about the future of the biofuel sector in Ghana (and especially of jatropha), there is still some interest in jatropha as reflected in community surveys and recent government policies. As we could not identify a single dominant driver of jatropha collapse locally or nationally “silver bullet” solutions might not exist. However, improving the land administration system would be a key if the negative past experiences of jatropha boom and bust are to be avoided.