A pro-poor biofuel? Household wealth and farmer participation in Jatropha curcas seed production and exchange in eastern Zambia

Authors Kuntashula, E.; van der Horst, D.; Vermeylen, S.
Year of Publication 2014
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Biomass and Bioenergy
Volume 63
Pagination 187-197
Open Access No


When a new crop is being promoted as a pro-poor, like in the case of Jatropha curcas (J. curcas) in Zambian rural communities, it is pertinent to explore factors that might affect its adoption, on not only homogenous groups but also heterogeneous wealth categories. This is because poorer farmers may be reluctant to invest in any untried innovations mainly due to their limited factors of production. Evidence from a household survey of 249 randomly selected farmers in eastern Zambia indicates that some factors that affect the farmers in embracing J. curcas seed production and exchange activities differ according to wealth. While factors related to household labour availability were crucial to involvement in J. curcas collection and exchange activities among poorest farmers, it was gender of the household heads and access to off-farm income that significantly influenced these activities among the well endowed farmers. Results further indicate that the farmers who are relatively well endowed are the ones most likely to benefit more from J. curcas collection and selling activities. Well endowed households harvested more seed from hedges because they have more labour and currently harvesting of seed is not restricted to private hedges. Further evidence show that even with fewer household members, the poorly endowed could be involved in planting of hedges. This is an avenue that can help the poorest farmers especially when property rights over J. curcas hedges are secured.