Increasing Smallholder Farmer Income Through Appropriate Technology in the Jatropha Biofuel Value Chain in Guatemala

University of Colorado at Boulder, 2010 - $49,951

Roughly half the population of Guatemala lives on less than two dollars a day, with the majority of rural households making a living through subsistence agriculture. At the same time, the country depends entirely on unsustainable energy sources to power the economy, importing all of its fossil fuel, while most rural households use firewood as their primary cooking fuel.

To address the dual issues of poverty and environmental degradation, this grant supports the development of briquettes made from the locally available Jatropha plant and other agricultural waste to meet rural families’ cooking fuel needs. Fuel briquettes are an environmentally friendly substitute for expensive or unsustainable fuel sources and can be produced at low cost using manual technology and free raw materials—in this case, Jatropha seedstock waste left over from the production of biodiesel. The team is partnering with TechnoServe, an international NGO with an office in Guatemala that has been creating biodiesel from Jatropha since 2006. The team has prior experience in briquette production, having collaborated with an Afghani NGO to launch a successful fuel briquette microenterprise in Kabul (funded by another Sustainable Vision grant).