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Technical and economic feasibility of a guayule commodity chain in Mediterranean Europe

Sfeir N., Chapuset T., Palu S., Lançon F., Amor A., García García J., Snoeck D.. 2014. Industrial Crops and Products, 59 : p. 55-62.

DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2014.04.043

In order to manage the constraints that threaten the supply of natural rubber (NR) from Hevea rubberplantations, the only commercial source of NR, alternative sources were tested in Europe. Guayule, ashrub from the Mexican desert producing natural rubber was found to fit the Mediterranean climateas demonstrated by previous trials setup in France and Spain to assess its agronomic and technologicalfeasibility. The objective of the study was to assess its economic feasibility.The financial accounts of a European guayule commodity chain model were established from dataacquired from previous guayule trials carried out in southern Europe. We developed a guayule commod-ity chain managed by a farmer for growing biomass, and a processor for extracting rubber and otherbyproducts (resin, bagasse) in a conceived processing plant. Different simulations were tested to find themost feasible scenario. Based on a 10-year field cultivation period, the breakeven point for the farmerwas reached at 214D ton?1of dry biomass with an average cost of field cultivation of 1924D year?1. Bypurchasing biomass at farmer's breakeven point and considering latex as the only final product, the pro-cessor breakeven point was reached at latex selling price of 8.16D kg?1of dry rubber. Otherwise, whenadding the parallel production of crude rubber, resin and bagasse through biorefinery process, the latexbreakeven point can be lower, at 2.46D kg?1of dry rubber (plus crude rubber at 2.15D ; resin at 2.10D ;bagasse at 0.10D ); all prices far below current market prices.Guayule in the Mediterranean was compared to other crops showing that it can play a role as analternative crop from which the region can benefit to improve its economic development.

Mots-clés : parthenium argentatum; caoutchouc; latex; technique de culture; analyse économique; analyse des coûts; climat méditerranéen; donnée de production; france; espagne; région méditerranéenne; caoutchouc naturel; filière

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