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Green Poverty Reduction in northeast Yunnan

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Yunnan will be one of five administrative regions in China to participate in the project "Green Poverty Reduction in China" with the goal of environmentally-friendly economic and energy development, which was launched at the end of November.

The US$8.5 billion project is an initiative between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), China's Ministry of Science and Technology and a branch of the Ministry of Commerce. Aimed at alleviating western China's poverty with green business and energy generation, the initiative will provide small-scale wind turbines to Inner Mongolian herdsmen and fund production of Chinese medicinal herb Jarrah Dayun in Xinjiang.

The initiative will also target the arid mountainous regions of northeast Yunnan, southeast Sichuan and northwest Guizhou, where it will fund planting of Jatropha curcas L., a tree that thrives in arid regions, adds nutrients to soil and produces large amounts of an oil that can be used in making bio-diesel.

The goal of the project in the region is to expand the existing 27,000 hectares of jatropha trees to more than 270,000 hectares within the next five years, which is expected to add US$65-$90 of income per year to the areas impoverished farmers. The initiative will also explore local strategies for optimizing jatropha's energy potential.

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UNDP and MOST have rightly expressed concern about the toxicity of the variety of Jatropha being grown in China for biodiesel production. In Mexico there is a variety of Jatropha curcas that is non-toxic. I will pass this information to UNDP / Beijing.

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