IIAS has become partner in a new network called JARAK, the Jatropha Research and Knowledge network on claims and facts concerning socially sustainable jatropha production in Indonesia. Jatropha is crop that seems very promising: it can be used as a clean non-fossil diesel fuel and it can provide new income sources in marginal areas that will grow the crop.
The promise has already inspired millions of dollars of realised investment in jatropha plantations and many plans for more announced in newspapers and conferences. In only a few years, an ordinary hedge plant known in Indonesia as jarak pagar, has been turned into a valuable commodity for energy production: jatropha. What casued this rapid process of commoditisation? What are the environmental requirements and consequences? How can local producers and labourers benefit from the prospective profits?
The scientific challenge of this network is to bridge the current gap between the claims on jatropha and actually existing knowledge that would justify them.
Project leader Dr Jacqueline Vel of the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Development (Leiden University) has been successful in bringing together the right partners and applying for a large grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
Partners in this project are:
- The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), Leiden, the Netherlands
- The Institute of Cultural Anthropology, Leiden University, the Netherlands
- The Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Netherlands
- Dept. of Anthropology, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
- Dept. of Anthropology, Gadjah Madah University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
- Dept. of Agricultural Law, UNPAR Bandung, Indonesia
- Dept. of Forestry, UNMUL Samarinda, Indonesia
- Research Center for Natural Resources and Biotechnology, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia
- International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, the Netherlands
The KITLV and IIAS have each provided three fellowships for international researchers working on jatropha or other biofuels in Asia, who will be asked to give a comparative perspective.