Jatropha is not a wonder crop. In the last couple of years, producers and Jatropha‐based projects around the world have all come to this conclusion. The high expectations raised at the height of the Jatropha hype have had to be scaled down over the last four years or so‐‐roughly the period over which the six projects evaluated here have been operational. While some of its properties (see Chapter 1) enable Jatropha to survive on marginal and degraded land without irrigation or other inputs, the returns are too low under these conditions to be viable in terms of labour input and volumes required for PPO production.
Like any crop, it needs favourable climatic conditions, input supplements and maintenance in order to give sufficient returns. The labour requirements for Jatropha production are substantial, and lead to competition for labour with other crops. This has been experienced in all the six projects evaluated here. At least in the initial years Jatropha seems to need more investment in terms of labour to income ratio than other crops. In particular the harvesting, weeding and shelling stages were reported by producers as overly time‐consuming. Jatropha also has a long gestation period of up to seven or eight years after planting before it reaches optimal yields. And the yields attainable, even under favourable conditions have been lower than the estimates made at the height of the Jatropha hype when most of these projects were initiated.
Finally, Jatropha production for oilseed was a completely new venture in most places, and involved many uncertainties relating to crop production and processing. Some of these have been resolved while others have been identified for further research. Some of these realities were being realised soon after most of these projects began, and many had to readjust their expectations. In short, the last few years have constituted a learning period for all Jatropha projects.