Experience with Jatropha in Mali

Many actions have been carried out by GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) in the late 1980’s, developing technologies including the multi-functional platform (or energy platform) which can run on jatropha oil. The project was executed in cooperation with the CNESOLER (Centre National d'Energie Solaire & des Energies Renouvelables - Malian National Centre for Solar & Renewable Energy). Soap making from jatropha was also developed further. Traditionally women pressed the seed by hand to make a natural rough black soap with valued dermatological properties. However, using a mechanical jatropha press it is easy to produce pure clean oil that can be used to make finer white soap with the same properties but white in colour and with a much smoother texture. The value added in this white soap production is also higher. The use of the press cake as a fertiliser was also developed.

However, in the 1990’s, the project was brought to an early end, and with it many of the activities. One of the reasons was that is was seen as an energy project, but in the field the women’s groups were much more interested in the income generating activities made possible by jatropha and the environmental benefits it brought, rather than the energy aspect.

CNESOLER continued to promote the Jatropha plant at the national level, but there was a general lack of interest in the mid 1990's. In 1999, MFC started its activities in Mali and identified Jatropha as having huge potential for Mali and West Africa. MFC started working in cooperation with CNESOLER to initiate projects in Jatropha technology transfer and develoment of sustainable management models. The results of these projects were promoted agressively by MFC in the international arena, which has contributed to the renewed international interest in this under-utilised plant. MFC continues to cooperate with CNESOLER & other actors including national & international develoment agencies and NGOs, ministries, municipalities and the private sector.

Brief history of projects involved in promotion of Jatropha, funded by GTZ and UNDP:

  • 1987 - 1990, Programme Spéciale Energie (Special Energy Program) made first experimentation on use of Jatropha oil as fuel;
  • 1991 - 1992, CNESOLER continued this activity by installation of a vegetable oil fuelled engine to power a grinfing mill and a mechanical press in Falan;
  • 1993 - 1997, le Projet Pourghère (Jatropha Project, CNESOLER) demonstrated this approach to rural development in two additional zones.

The main focus of these projects was on:

• Renewable energy

• Combatting erosion

• Promotion of women

• Combatting poverty