Peer review

The present E-Publication “JARAK: The Short History of Jatropha projects in Indonesia” has been edited and independently reviewed by a select group of specialists in the field. It is digitally published by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands.

Prof. Carol Warren (Murdoch University, Perth, Australia) wrote:

This is a most interesting case study of the rise and decline of a ‘miracle’ bio-fuel crop, jatropha. The study is particularly valuable in tracking the range of actors who come to comprise the ‘stakeholders’ in jatropha promotion, and whose varied interests at one stage or another contributed to both its cinderella status as well as to its precipitous decline.

The stunning mismatch of environmental and socio- economic claims for jatropha and their disconnect with local conditions, market interest and the varied technical requirements of the plant itself are carefully dissected in the short topic segments presented in the text. The authors revolve the core narrative around key players and the structural relations of patronage that enabled the creation of jatropha as a saleable ‘discursive commodity’. 

The argument that threads throughout the study is that while exaggerating the potential of jatropha cultivation to contribute to energy security, carbon emission mitigation, and poverty alleviation, the trajectory of its ‘development’ was actually about patronage networks and elite capture of rent-seeking opportunities.

Carefully tracking the impression management of jatropha’s practical potential for poverty alleviation and carbon emission reduction by various agents and interest groups, this is an excellent study of the actor networks complicit in the ‘failure’ of the jatropha program in a classic example of the ‘project’ model of short-term policy and practice that dogs so many development programs.

Prof. Yunita Winarto (Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta) wrote:

The compilation of the core article on Jatropha and the 26 mini-articles resulting from a comprehensive research by various researchers reveals a very thorough and serious study on the commoditization of an alternative biofuel crop in Indonesia. As indicated in the text about the site, the mini-articles demonstrate a variety of issues related to one of the core article’s arguments with its diverse perspectives originated from different disciplines. Seeing from this angle, the compilation of all articles provides a rich and in-depth understanding of the problems related to the government efforts to commoditize a crop as an alternative biofuel crop. The compilation of articles thus presents a good lessons-learned for various parties ranging from the government, NGOs, scientists, corporates in developing similar programmes in the future so as to avoid any misconduct and failure. From this perspective, the whole set of the articles are worthy to be published as E-publication manuscripts.

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