Green gold ... for local development in the Sahel areas of Senegal

Many agronomists consider jatropha, which produces an oil very similar to diesel, as the future "green gold". But that's not enough: its cultivation must be properly controlled.

Humanitarian and Development

Louga, Kaffrine and Tambacounda regions, Senegal

Geneviève Ferone

67 500 € over 2 years to the Selection Committee at 2010/01/26

Project leader


"The projects for the large scale cultivation of jatropha, developed in India and Nicaragua in the 1990s, where abandoned by the farmers because they failed to earn the income they anticipated. This is why I back the goal of SAPCA-EGAS: this project will develop a complementary small-scale cultivation as a direct answer to the needs of the farmers. The idea is to offer them energy self-sufficiency to boost their purchasing power and improve their income, and hence their standards of living."

Geneviève Ferone

Jatropha, a shrub with red flowers and dark green foliage, grows in semi-arid zones (some Sahel countries, Egypt, Madagascar, Central and South America, India, Cambodia, Laos, etc.). Its berries and sap are toxic: jatropha is inedible for humans or animals. Until recently, almost no one therefore cared much about it. But in the last 20 years, agronomists have identified a highly desirable property: when heated, its oil closely resembles diesel! Some already call it green gold ... even though its potential capacities remain mediocre: you need 8 kilos of fruit to produce 1.5 liter of biodiesel.

Nevertheless, the shrubs are robust and produce fruits for 50 years. This crop is therefore worth developing, provided that its contribution can be evaluated accurately - in terms of gain in productivity and income for the peasants who decide to cultivate it.
In Senegal, in the Louga, Kaffrine and Tambacounda regions, this is the plan of Société d'Approvisionnement, de Production, de Commercialisation et de Conseil Agricole des Ententes des Groupements Associés du Sénégal (SAPCA-EGAS), a farm and services coop.

200 peasants engaged in a pioneering project

Jatropha also has another property of tremendous value in the parts of Senegal affected by global warming: its roots prevent soil erosion and retain water. But there is no question here of encouraging the farmers to cultivate jatropha without being sure of its profitability and its benefits for the local population.
SAPCA-EGAS therefore decided to limit this cultivation initially to a pilot project, on 200 hectares. 200 families will be concerned. They will be closely monitored by the cooperative's technicians. For three years, they will in fact have to learn to control the whole plant production chain, to extract the oil from the seeds, and to test its use. Jatropha oil should in fact be able to fuel the motors of mills, boreholes, power generators, etc. And SAPCA-EGAS also intends to check that this crop will earn additional income for the family farms in the project, while letting them continue to grow market garden crops.

The Veolia Foundation is committed to accompany this project for two years, to support the rural development of the regions concerned and the self-sufficiency of the pioneering farmers.

Launch of a vegetable oil complex designed to produce biofuels in the region of Foundiougne.

Domain: Humanitarian and Development
Country: Senegal
Endowment: 2008/05/27
Learn more about this project

Domain : Environnement et Biodiversité
Country : Sénégal
Endowment : 18/06/2012
Learn more about this project