The Bioeconomy has multiple definitions and objectives but a key aspect is its focus on the production of biomass and its uses beyond energy, food, feed and fibre products to produce products with value-added, as well as improved or new supply chains. States in sub-Saharan Africa have started to look at the potential for the bioeconomy to add value to their bioresources and biowaste. However, there is a difference from European bioeconomy goals, which focus on high-value molecules and have a clear objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of alternative non-fossil fuel products.
In sub-Saharan Africa, natural resources that can contribute to the expansion of the bioeconomy cut across the traditional economic sectors, while also contributing to the achievement of multiple SDGs at the regional and local levels. Oil-producing plants such as oil palm and croton have been used for centuries on a small scale. Others, such as groundnuts, moringa or sesame seeds, were introduced later.
In East Africa, the croton tree Croton megalocarpus Hutchinson demonstrates the potential of the bioeconomy. A programme funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) on the development of alternative biofuel crops (DABC) ran from 2013 to 2016. It aimed to develop biofuels through pro-poor models that met local socio-economic need, empowered women and contributed to rural development while benefiting the environment.
Several studies have been conducted in Kenya on the value chain of Croton megalocarpus Hutch (Jacobson et al. 2018; CianneIla 2016). The main focus of these studies was the production of biofuel and the links to improving livelihoods. This report focuses on the value added by this natural resource from a bioeconomy perspective, which includes the potential for several croton products to improve farmers’ livelihoods and contribute to several economic sectors in the region
The study focuses on one company’s business model (EFK) based on Croton megalocarpus, and the value chain it has developed in Kenya. In-depth interviews were carried out with EFK staff, farmers, the government representative in the local area and ICRAF.