Jatropha mahafalensis for rural energy supply in south-western Madagascar?

Ehrensperger, Albrecht; Randriamalala, Josoa R.; Raoliarivelo, Léa I. B.; Husi, Janet M. (2015). Jatropha mahafalensis for rural energy supply in south-western Madagascar? Energy for sustainable development, 28, pp. 60-67. International Energy Initiative 10.1016/j.esd.2015.07.006

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In many parts of the eastern African region wood-based fuels will remain dominant sources of energy in coming decades. Pressure on forests, especially in semi-arid areas will therefore continue increasing. In this context, the role of liquid biofuels as substitutes for firewood and charcoal, to help reducing pressure on woody biomass and contributing to a better energy security of rural communities, has remained controversial among researchers and practitioners. At household level, the economic and technical feasibility of straight vegetable oil (SVO) was assessed mainly on Jatropha curcas, with unpersuasive results. So far nothing is known about the suitability as an energy carrier of Jatropha mahafalensis Jum. & H. Perrier, the only endemic representative of the Jatropha genus in Madagascar. This paper explores the potential of this plant as a biofuel feedstock in the agro-pastoral area of Soalara, in the semi-arid south-western part of Madagascar. Only hedge-based production was considered to rule out competition over land with food crops. Yield data, the length of currently existing hedges and energy consumption patterns of households were used to assess the quantitative potential and economic viability of J. mahafalensis SVO for lighting and cooking. Tests were conducted with cooking and lighting devices to assess their technical suitability at household level. The paper concludes that J. mahafalensis hedges have some potential to replace paraffin for lighting (though without much economic benefit for the concerned households), but not to replace charcoal or firewood for cooking. The paper recommends that rural energy strategies in similar contexts do not focus only on substituting current fuels with SVO, but should also take into consideration other alternatives. In the case of cooking, there seems to be substantially more potential in increasing the efficiency of current fuel production and consumption technologies (kilns and stoves); and in the case of lighting, solutions based on SVO need to be compared against other options such as portable solar devices.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Ehrensperger, Albrecht




International Energy Initiative




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

27 Aug 2015 10:32

Last Modified:

24 Mar 2017 15:30

Publisher DOI:






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