NICO Strydo, a Jatropha farmer in Mozambique looks out over the 10-month-old, 1,000-hectare farm he runs for Sun Biofuels, a British-based company that hopes jatropha will turn African farmland into a fuel source for the 21st century.
He is not an expert on jatropha. That knowledge gap is causing some nervousness in Mozambique, an impoverished country with a history of civil war and natural disaster that has made it vulnerable to food shortages.
Jatropha enthusiasts say the plant can grow almost anywhere, yielding high outputs of cleaner, renewable energy, without taking quality farmland away from food crops.
But skeptics question those claims and argue Mozambique should not grow an inedible biofuel crop when it still struggles to feed all its people.
Indeed, the debate goes beyond Mozambique.
The United Nations says the world's food supply needs to grow 70 percent in the next four decades to feed a population expected to reach 9.1 billion.