Agriculture beyond Food research project 'JARAK' E-pub launch

10 October 2014

The E-publication of the 'Agriculture beyond Food' research project JARAK is a new way of presenting the synthesis of a multi-disciplinary and international research programme. The launch took place during the Southeast Asia Seminar, organised by the Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden Law School (VVI), the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the International Institute for Asian Studies at 9 October.

How and why did jatropha turn from a top policy priority into a failure? Within a decade, all that is left from this widely promoted ‘miracle crop’ and renewable energy source are failed harvests and abandoned investments. None of the claims that jatropha could help fight climate change, reduce dependency on fossil fuels and lift rural poverty have been realized. Our research shows how decision-makers adopted optimistic projections derived from lab research as a basis for policy making, allocating public budget for jatropha development and paving the way for private sector investments. Influential policy entrepreneurs and their narratives, rather than scientific evidence, informed budget allocation.

The five original research questions have been expanded so as to demonstrate how the jatropha episode is indicative of larger developments concerning green energy, agrarian change and policies stimulating technological innovation. What did we learn for future policies addressing solutions for major crises? What does this research teach us about Indonesia?

The E-publication of JARAK is the first of its kind at IIAS – a new way of presenting the synthesis of a multi-disciplinary and international research programme. The core article is at the centre of 26 mini-articles – enhanced with photos and video - which elaborate its arguments. They have been written by the 18 researchers and supervisors involved in JARAK. Links in these articles lead directly to scientific articles and other publications of the JARAK team and core literature references. Is this a model for presenting overall research program results?

JARAK - the commoditization of an alternative biofuel crop in Indonesia (Jatropha) - combines research in three 'Agriculture beyond Food' (AbF) domains: legal environment and governance, socio-economic aspects, and plant production. JARAK addresses five general questions through six projects indicating the interdisciplinary synergy and links between the projects. JARAK builded a policy-relevant knowledge base specific to the Indonesian case. Beyond that, it contributed to a broader understanding of social and legal techniques being developed to create a bio-based economy. Main applicant is Prof. mr. J.M. Otto (Leiden University).

Source: NWO