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Jatropha: Haiti’s Biodiesel Plant

In the course of developing projects to fulfill our mission, one tool stands alone in its potential to address both the causes and effects of energy poverty. That tool is a humble plant native to Haiti’s soil, Jatropha Curcas. Known colloquially as Mestiyen, this plant has several unique qualities. It grows where other plants will not, can be used as a “living fence” because it is inedible, benefits crop growth by retaining water and providing shelter from winds, and yields large quantities of plant oil.

At the Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Port-au-Prince, the excitement over the potential for Jatropha to transform Haiti’s energy landscape was palpable. Presentations made at the meeting reported on the accumulation of capital – both human and productive – for Jatropha and other biofuels in Haiti.

Through the tree nursery, EarthSpark International will help to transform Coteaux into a hub for biodiesel investment. We have formed a partnership with Haiti Biodiesel, a domestic company, which will provide an initial 5,000 Jatropha seeds to the tree nursery. Haiti Biodiesel has also agreed to purchase the seed harvest from farmers in Coteaux who cultivate Jatropha.

Farmers will be taught about the unique characteristics of Jatropha cultivation so as not to reduce the amount of their food crop area. In fact, the seminars offered by the tree nursery will teach farmers techniques to increase their food crop yield, with and without Jatropha.

We expect these activities to increase the “human capital” in Coteaux for biodiesel production. As the tree nursery continues to raise more Jatropha, and more seedlings are planted by farmers, EarthSpark International will work with private companies like Biodiesel Haiti, other NGOs which have demonstrated the Jatropha supply chain in other parts of the country, and our own Clean Energy Store to develop markets and accumulate capital for Jatropha oil production and use.