Genetic Improvement of Edible and Non-edible Jatropha for Marginal Environments in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Matthias MartinEmail author
  • Brigitte Bohlinger
  • Elisa Senger
  • Euloge Dongmeza
  • Zafitsara Tantely Andrianirina
  • Juan M. Montes


Jatropha has been grown in the past mainly for producing oil for biofuels preferably in marginal environments in sub-Saharan Africa, yet many projects collapsed due to overestimated yields and underestimated costs. The cultivation of jatropha genotypes that produce seeds lacking toxic phorbol esters (“non-toxic jatropha,” “edible jatropha”) currently receives increasing attention for animal feeding and food production. We give an overview of the challenges of jatropha cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa, discuss results from field trials in marginal environments from that region, and propose strategies for jatropha genetic improvement. Average seed yields obtained from selected hybrids at marginal places in Cameroon and Madagascar over 4 years demonstrated superiority of hybrids (2.2–8.3 t/ha) over wild germplasm, considerable extent of midparent heterosis (~400%), and potential to select for stably performing hybrids exhibiting less genotype-by-environment interaction. Cultivation of edible and non-edible jatropha hybrids had positive contribution margins per hectare and year (124–665 €/ha) in contrast to negative contribution margins of wild germplasm. The main breeding objective for edible and non-edible jatropha is to increase seed yield and stability across years and environments. Breeding objectives for seed quality parameters differ depending on the market segment. New hybrid varieties adapted to different climates have now become available. Jatropha companies and institutions providing solutions for superior genetics and technical guidance will lead to a new start in jatropha cultivation to turn future projects into success stories.


Breeding Edible jatropha Genetic improvement Marginal environments Non-toxic jatropha Sub-Saharan Africa 



This chapter is dedicated to the late Klaus Tropf, co-founder of JatroSolutions GmbH and jatropha pioneer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Martin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brigitte Bohlinger
    • 1
  • Elisa Senger
    • 1
  • Euloge Dongmeza
    • 2
  • Zafitsara Tantely Andrianirina
    • 3
  • Juan M. Montes
    • 4
  1. 1.JatroSolutions GmbHStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.JatroSahel SARLYaoundéCameroon
  3. 3.TatsAina Agro ConsultingAntananarivoMadagascar
  4. 4.Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science, and Population GeneticsUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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