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Wageningen University (2010)

Disentangling the complexity of jatropha practices in Southern Mali

Metzler, J.

Titre  : Disentangling the complexity of jatropha practices in Southern Mali

Auteur : Metzler, J.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2010

In Mali, jatropha is traditionally planted for medicinal purposes or as fences. Hence, the introduction of jatropha as biofuel crop is for the most part linked to external intervention of northern based organizations. Such external development interventions entail relations between local actors and development practitioners who approach the domain, such as jatropha, from very different positions, in terms of technical knowledge and livelihood motivations. These relations are shaped by the interlocking of different practices, knowledge, interests and values. The differences can have substantial impacts on project outcomes and efficacy. This research aims at elucidating the social-technical setting in which jatropha is introduced. To this end, social interfaces around jatropha are analyzed. Social interfaces are defined as critical point of intersection between social worlds, fields or levels of social organizations where social discontinuities, based upon discrepancies in values, interests, knowledge and power, are most likely to be found. In the case of the analyzed project ALTERRE, which aims at co-developing a local biofuel supply chain based on jatropha, several actors are connected through jatropha. These are for instant local actors, jatropha producers, extension agents, international NGO, donor agencies, development practitioners. While jatropha acts as a shared point of reference the various actors’ practices with, approaches to, and objectives with jatropha may differ in ways which have the potential to influence the outcomes of ALTERRE’s participatory action research project. Objective of this research is to describe and analyze similarities and differences in the ways that multiple actors approach jatropha in a shared context. By elaborating on the different social worlds and practices of the involved actors, rationales for different patterns will emerge. For this end, the first results chapter focuses on farmers’ experiences with, practices of, and motivations for jatropha production in order to analyze the positions from which they approach the project in the context of their livelihoods. The second results Chapter effectively parallels the first but focusing on ALTERRE rather than farmers. The first part of this chapter examines the institutional context, which is important in that it frames ALTERRE’s relationship with jatropha just as farmers’ experiences shape theirs. This analysis informs the second part of the chapter, which looks at how this context is translated into ALTERRE’s practices around jatropha promotion in the context of the Malian project. The third chapter is based in ethnographic description of the occasions where farmers and ALTERRE meet, analyzing overlaps and discontinuities in the ways farmers and ALTERRE approach jatropha from their different positions. The discussion chapter of the thesis provides synthetic analysis of the three results chapters, elaborating their theoretical and practical significance regarding the co-production of knowledge and technology between farmers, scientists and development practitioners.

Mots clés : sociology / jatropha / local population / development / development agencies / values / power / knowledge / mali / west africa


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Page publiée le 13 février 2015, mise à jour le 17 octobre 2018