Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) said on Friday that the much-touted biofuel crop jatropha is neither a profitable nor a sustainable investment.

The federation which is Chaired by Nigeria's Nnimmo Bassey,  said:
''Jatropha: money doesn't grow on trees warns investors away from jatropha – a shrub being increasingly planted for its oil-producing fruits and ability to survive in arid conditions – stating growing evidence that the crop is failing to deliver on its promises while simultaneously failing to prevent climate change or contribute to pro-poor development''.

Paul de Clerck, Economic Justice Programme Co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “European investment companies advertise that jatropha guarantees high returns on marginal soils.

''But, their promises are far from realistic. Many projects have already been abandoned because yields have stayed below expectations, even on good soils. Large-scale jatropha plantations are neither a profitable nor sustainable investment; companies should stop land-grabbing for jatropha.”

Jatropha is however, being promoted by investment companies as a profit-making panacea, providing a source of biofuel that can be grown on marginal land across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

But research from FoEI reveals that investments in large-scale jatropha plantations are failing due to the crop’s poor performance, with increasing evidence of low yields on poor quality soils, and even good soil.

The report, highlights jatropha companies such as D1 Oils and Flora EcoPower who have been unsuccessful, illustrating that the plant's economic viability is highly doubtful.

The investments are controversially fuelling land-grabs in Africa, displacing farmers and communities whilst competing with food production and water supplies.

Mariann Bassey, Food and Agriculture Co-ordinator for Environmental Rights Action (ERA), the Nigerian wing of Friends of the Earth, said: “We want agriculture that allows us to grow food for people not for cars.

''But unfortunately, in Africa, farmlands are snatched from communities and people's livelihoods are destroyed for yet another false solution to climate change. The implication has been negative because food prices are rising again''.

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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

This group issues out communications using ERA's headquarter address and mail box. We have never had any ties with this group and any views, comments or opinions expressed by them is not endorsed or authorized by any member of management or staff of ERA.

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