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Browsing by Author "Tommila, Paula"

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  • Tommila, Paula (Helsingin yliopistoHelsingfors universitetUniversity of Helsinki, 2009)
    Biofuels are under discussion all over the world today. There are fears that the farming of biofuel plants hurts food production and weakens the food security of the poor. On the other hand, biofuel production could lessen the green house gas emissions caused by transportation, and it could also spread the profits from fuel markets more evenly between countries. The aim of this thesis is to find out how an oil plant called jatropha curcas L., which is used for biodiesel production, can affect the sustainability of livelihoods in Vietnam from the point of view of land use. Special attention is given to the effects of jatropha farming on food production, land productivity, natural resources of livelihoods and global livelihood. Jatropha belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae, and it grows naturally in tropical and subtropical areas. It can be grown on poor soils, its seeds have high oil content, and it cannot be eaten due to its toxicity. The plant grows naturally in Vietnam, and during the past few years it has also begun to be farmed for making biodiesel. Population growth in Vietnam has slowed down, but the population's standard of living and energy consumption are still rising quickly. An interest in the international biodiesel markets has awoken following Vietnam's opening up to international trade. Jatropha diesel plays a significant part in Vietnam's clean fuel strategy, and many companies have set up jatropha plantations to produce raw material for biodiesel. Diesel made from jatropha is planned to be used both locally and for export. This thesis uses a theoretical concept of sustainable livelihoods. According to the theory, the resources that people have shape their livelihood possibilities. Farming of jatropha affects the livelihoods of people especially through land use, as land use changes have effects on many of the livelihood resources. In addition to the written sources, the material of the thesis is based on 14 interviews in Vietnam and Finland, and on observation during a field trip to Northern Vietnam in the spring of 2008. The results of the thesis show that jatropha diesel can support the sustainability of livelihoods at different scales if it is produced with deliberation. However, positive results are only possible if decisions are made carefully and more experience is collected. The possibilities of sustainable jatropha farming depend mainly on the previous land use methods and ways of production. Farming of jatropha does not threaten food production in Vietnam if the farming plans are implemented as planned. Jatropha may take some land from cassava, but at the same time, food production can be increased if mixed farming is used on some farms. Plenty of new research information and practical experiences on jatropha farming has to be collected before results of the real sustainability of the farming are ready. Carefully considered continuation and documentation of present and future projects would help to understand the possibilities of jatropha diesel in Vietnam and elsewhere.