Jatropha curcas L. (or physic nut), a previously underutilized tree species in smallholder farming systems, is fast gaining formal recognition as a very important tree crop in improving rural livelihoods. The Government of Zimbabwe is vigorously promoting the growing of Jatropha in marginal areas for bio-diesel production to save the country foreign currency in fuel imports. A study was carried out in 12 out of 19 wards of Mutoko district in 2007 to analyze the socio-economics of Jatropha commercial utilization by smallholder farmers in marginal areas as a livelihood improvement strategy. The analysis involved categorizing farming households according to socio-economic characteristics and finding the effects they have on commercial utilization of Jatropha. The study employed binary logistic (Logit) and Tobit regression analyses in meeting the research objectives. Size of landholding, household’s wealth status and perception about the price were the socio-economic factors found to be significant in influencing decision by households to adopt (or not adopt) commercial utilization of Jatropha. The concludes by recommending that For successful Jatropha commercialization to be realized and the smallholder farmers’ livelihoods improved, there is need for the government to put in place a complete package of incentives that will stimulate optimal exploitation of the Jatropha plant, including adjusting the selling price to viable levels.


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