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Government officials in the southern African nation of Namibia late last month put the brakes on plans for large-scale Jatropha plantations in the country’s northeast, citing the need for more study on the potential disruptive impact on food cultivation, landownership patterns and a loss of access to communal property.

Patrick M. O’Brien, a retired executive of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service who is now consulting for Mission NewEnergy, said Jatropha could find a domestic production base in an area extending “from Texas around the Gulf Coast up to South Carolina,” although not too far north because of frost concerns. The areas where Jatropha could be grown domestically include some where farmers might reap profits.