IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE JATROPHA BOOM: Exploring socio-political and ecological dynamics in ‘failed’ jatropha spaces in Ghana

Richmond Antwi-Bediako

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


The thesis addresses the knowledge gap in research on large-scale land investment, focusing on investment failure and their aftermath. It provides an in-depth analysis of how investment trajectories transformed jatropha spaces in Ghana, and what happened to these spaces after the investment failed. The thesis gives an overview of how the heightened global interest in jatropha resulted in large-scale land investments in many developing countries especially: Mexico, India, China, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ghana. In all of the countries studied, promoters, including government and private investors, took a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, hoping for an economic boom. Consequently, when jatropha investments failed, the promoters were unprepared to deal with unexpected social, economic and environmental impacts of the failure. The thesis further zoomed into three case studies of former jatropha spaces created by large-scale investments in Ghana. The results provide a clear view of impacts of investment failures on local ecology, livelihoods and governance, as the investment failures led to total abandonment and/or to investment diversification. Overall, the case studies show that the investment trajectories from jatropha boom to bust have affected vulnerable migrants and common pool resource users. The challenges were rooted in underlying social inequality, resource entitlement, rural development capacity and resource distribution. The thesis in conclusion emphasize the importance of building land investment strategies based on solid understanding of local contexts and discusses opportunities to critically evaluate investment failures in order to integrate inclusive sustainable development strategies in land investments.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Zoomers, Annelies, Primary supervisor
  • Otsuki, Kei, Co-supervisor
  • Amsalu, A., Co-supervisor, External person
Award date21 May 2021
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-94-6416-605-7
Electronic ISBNs978-94-6416-606-4
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021


  • Jatropha
  • Hype
  • Aftermath
  • Boom
  • Largescale
  • Investment
  • Migrant
  • Native
  • Inclusive
  • Sustainable
  • Development


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