Jatropha: Solution to Two of Haiti’s Most Pressing Problems?

What if two of Haiti’s most urgent problems, namely food security and environmental degradation, can be solved in one go? A scientist and former researcher at Cornell University says there is an available solution to these two problems.

The proposed solution is a plant called jatropha, which is already used and grown in African countries and several indigenous communities in Mexico, according to Huascar Robles of Change.org.

Geneticist Gael Pressoir has been exploring the use of this plant, which he says can be transformed into food and fuel, Robles writes.

“Pressoir believes the plant can be grown in Haiti, too — with potentially incredible results,” he adds.

The plant, Robles explains, is rich in protein and produces oil that can be burned as fuel. The plant itself can be used to reforest thousands of acres of barren land in the country.

Jatropha oil can also be used as biodiesel, which, in a diesel-dependent country like Haiti, can open opportunities for big fiscal savings.

With the help of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the L’Agence Nationale De La Recherche in France, Pressoir and his nonprofit group CHIBAS are already researching ways to introduce the plant to the Haitian market. The country’s agricultural ministry is also backing the initiative, though there are concerns within the Haitian government that production of jatropha may interfere with Haiti’s traditional food crops, Robles says.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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