Jatropha: Junta Hijinks in Myanmar

The leaders of Myanmar’s Junta have formed a plan to reduce their country’s $600 million dependence on oil imports– reductions in oil subsidies sparked the popular uprising last fall- with biodiesel. They’re relying on hearty, drought-resistant jatropha, which produces nuts that may be processed into a vegetable oil, and which displaces no food crops. Since requiring farmers to plant them in unused spaces in 2006, much of the country has got jatropha growing wherever they can fit it, even in window boxes in the sometime-capital, Yangon. So far, so good, right? Energy security, no loss of food supplies, widespread public participation…

Except, with their busy schedule of oppressing their own people and making meaningless gestures toward democratic change, the Junta hasn’t actually gotten around to building the refineries necessary to turn the jatropha nuts into fuel. Whoops! What with having a centrally planned economy and all, you’d think they’d have remembered to actually plan.

The American government messed up biofuel by putting all its eggs into corn. The Myanmar Junta messed up by blustering their way into the project and not funding the necessary infrastructure. There are plenty of ways to do biofuel wrong- how many such predictable failures will we see before a government gets it right?

2 Responses to “Jatropha: Junta Hijinks in Myanmar”

  1. 1 Jatropha News Trackback on March 16, 2008 at 3:49 am
  2. 2 They’re Asking For It « Virescent Trackback on March 17, 2008 at 10:06 pm

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