Supply chain management involves all of the activities in industrial organizations from raw material procurement to final product delivery to customers. The main aim in supply chain management is to satisfy production requirements, while optimizing the economic objectives. In traditional fossil fuel supply chains, huge amounts of fossil fuels are transported via pipelines or tankers with very small costs. These fuels can be transformed into other sources of energy or transportation fuels at their destination points. This supply chain structure results in creation of global energy markets and has made the fossil fuel based energy systems the dominating energy technologies in the world. Unfortunately, the consumption of fossil fuels now represents the major cause of climate change, and as a consequence, the viability of the fossil fuel supply chain is becoming increasingly questioned.

Furthermore, whilst biofuels represent a sustainable alternative, the biofuel transportation channels are not as well developed as fossil fuels, are more expensive, and may be restricted by the perishability of the raw product. Thus, the development of biofuel supply chains may introduce a move from global energy markets to locally distributed energy supply chains: local plantations transformed into biodiesel in local production facilities and –usually- consumed within the same region.

Different species have been researched by many researchers as possible sources of biofuel. Although only in use for a relativity short period, Jatropha curcas is being championed as a revolutionary biofuel feedstock thanks to its environmental, economic and social benefits. Being a very resilient seed, it can grow in land which may not be considered nutritious for most crops. It can resist drought for up to three years and can be intercropped with many staple crops such as coffee and sugar. Since it is not a food source, it doesn’t involve in the ‘food vs. fuel’ debate. It is usually found and best grows in the more economically depressed regions of the world. Plantations of Jatropha and production of biofuel can create new job opportunities and an economic resource for people living in subsistence areas and these places can greatly benefit from further development of Jatropha. However, its success will depend on construction of a successful infrastructure for its supply chain. The cultivation of the plant, the production of the biodiesel, its distribution and marketing channels are developmental challenges. Thus, according to Caniëls et al. (2007) the Jatropha supply chain is characterized by being “highly dynamic and subject to uncertainties” and is a “dynamic adaptive system”, such that “the conventional preoccupation of the bulk supply chain management studies with detailed optimization and control is not so well suited to the requirements posed by this dynamic and unpredictable situation” .

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Ahu Soylu
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