Assessing the impact of growing Jatropha curcas for biofuel on the livelihood of Swaziland's rural community of Mpaka at household level.
As biofuels were growing in importance, Jatropha curcas has been widely promoted as the best suitable source for biodiesel that can be exploited by developing countries .Whilst there were fears that this development may threaten food security and put a strain on other natural resources there was a view that if well managed, the activity may spur rural economic growth thereby reducing poverty and unemployment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact that growing Jatropha curcas for supplying the biodiesel industry has made on the livelihoods of the households that were involved within the community of Mpaka in Swaziland. The target respondents were all the farmers that had an agreement with D1 Oils Swaziland and actually planted Jatropha curcas based on the Sustainable Livelihoods framework and using qualitative techniques data were collected using documentation, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion, and some observation. Content analysis was then carried out to document the history of growing Jatropha curcas in Swaziland; map out the vulnerability context for the community of Mpaka; identify the range of assets that create the different livelihood strategies for the different households; determine the effect of policies and institutional conditions; and describe what the stakeholder’s view of growing Jatropha curcas is. The findings of the study revealed that growing Jatropha curcas greatly reduced the households’ vulnerability to drought, crops being browsed by livestock and high cost of farming inputs. However the study also revealed that the activity did not yield the desired outcome of income generation as the project did not continue due to bad publicity coupled with a poor policy environment and lack of coordination between and within government ministries and departments. Whilst it can be concluded that that the activity had a negative impact on the households involved it showed a great potential provided government through the relevant ministries and departments creates an enabling environment of proper policies and institutions and by involving all stakeholders at the right time.