Small-scale commodity frontiers : The bioeconomy value chain of castor oil in Madagascar

Neimark, Benjamin David and Healy, Tim (2018) Small-scale commodity frontiers : The bioeconomy value chain of castor oil in Madagascar. Journal of Agrarian Change, 18 (3). pp. 632-657. ISSN 1471-0358

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The European Commission defines the bioeconomy as a “transition economy which seeks to increase efficiency, optimize use and decrease environmental impact through the reduction of waste and greenhouse gas emissions.” However, attempts to substitute or control nature through efficient bio-based technology have not lived up to expectations and much of the industry still relies on globally sourced biomass to drive the bioeconomy. This article examines the social and political economic relations surrounding small-scale production of the feedstock castor oil plant (castor, Ricinus communis) in the deep south of Madagascar. Theorizing the bioeconomy through the lens of a “small-scale commodity frontier,” it builds from recent injunctions by Jason Moore to show how the appropriation of cheap nature (including paid and unpaid labour) is both historically and geographically co-produced. The castor value chain is held up as a way to transform regional economies and a “silver bullet” to alleviate poverty and address food security in some of the most economically marginal areas of Madagascar. We adopt a regional and feminist political ecology approach to illustrate what is behind this discursive cloak of “development imaginaries,” making visible the social relations surrounding castor production and demonstrating the historical marginalization involved in producing the frontier.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Agrarian Change
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:Neimark BD, Healy TM. Small‐scale commodity frontiers: The bioeconomy value chain of castor oil in Madagascar. J Agrar Change. 2018;18:632–657. which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? global and planetary change ??
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Deposited On:
17 Nov 2017 12:58
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 17:20