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May 31, 2008

Tanzanian activists oppose jatropha-based biofuel production

Environmental activists in Tanzania’s Coast Region have raised concern over the planned large-scale cultivation of Jatropha for biofuel production, saying it would lead to environmental degradation.

The environmentalists said that the crop would not boost the economy of the residents as the price of the plant would be less than 150/- (US 13 cents) per kilo, saying that was less than what cashew nuts fetched, which is between 400/- and 600/- per kilogram.

Sources say, there were investors seeking 18,000 hectares in the coastal districts for the cultivation of the new cash crop. About 9,000 hectares have already been set aside for a foreign investor for the purpose which would affect 11 villages in the district.

Former owners of the earmarked land had reportedly been offered compensation amounting to 800m/- by the investor.

Environmentalists claim the project would affect other sustainable development projects including livestock keeping, fisheries, beekeeping, factories, and natural forest conservation. Furthermore, there would be no enough land for farming of both cash and food crops for schools, hospitals and colleges in the district.

”I do not like the Jatropha circus because, as far as I know, it will not produce as much as 20,000 tonnes of diesel from an 18,000 hectare farm, instead it would only destroy the environment. Such investors should not be encouraged in the district”, one of the environmentalists said.

However, an economist said large-scale farming was more profitable than small-scale cultivation as it would produce more crops.

ASNS

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