This project focused on efforts to turn a local ‘wild’ plant species into a new agricultural crop, as it provided an excellent opportunity to study how traditional ecological knowledge and scientific knowledge interact and supplement each other. Jatropha curcas is an ‘underutilised species’ - a useful plant already known to farmers, but not as a cash crop - surrounded by ecological and economic controversy. Following the collapse of the hype around Jatropha as a sustainable biofuel crop, various different end-uses of Jatropha trees have been explored. This project uncovered what helps and what hinders the adoption and spread of activities such as local oil extraction and soap making. Locally produced Jatropha soap had a positive impact on household expenditure and bridged gaps in soap availability, thus providing important health benefits. Additionally, citizen science approaches discovered new uses for Jatropha as a pesticide.
ESPA. Impact Stories: All washed up? Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA), UK (2013) 2 pp.