Another major Jatropha project suffers setback

JatrophaAnother Jatropha biofuel project initiated by D1 Oils Plc has suffered a jolt as a major investor pulls out.

Reports reaching ghanabusinessnews.com from the US say, Europe’s second largest oil company BP Plc intends to exit its Jatropha biofuel project with D1 Oils Plc. BP, according to the reports is exiting the Jatropha project to focus on ethanol production in Brazil and the US and also to advance biobutanol development.

As a result of BP’s withdrawal, D1 agreed to acquire its 50% interest in their joint venture D1-BP Fuel Crops Ltd. venture which was set up in June 2007 to develop Jatropha. Jatropha is a drought-resistant tree whose seeds contain oil that can be used in biodiesel production.

The deal came to an end when the two companies failed to get a third investor for the project. The two began talking about dissolving the venture this year and bringing planting and plant-science operations under D1’s control.

BP and D1 had planned to plant 1 million hectares of Jatropha over four years, of which 220,000 hectares had been planted by April.

BP Alternative Energy earmarked $8 billion for the project investment in the decade through 2015. BP, which expects biofuels to account for 11 percent to 19 percent of the world’s transport-fuel market by 2030, supplied about 10 percent of global biofuels last year, according to company estimates.

London-based D1 however said it would be able to maintain the business at lower cost until market conditions allowed the injection of new capital.

This is the second time D1’s investments in Jatropha to produce biofuels has not gone well.

An ambitious Jatropha project in India involving 22 agribusiness colleges failed to yield projected targets, leading to disappointments and disillusionment.

The argument has been made that Jatropha would grow on wasteland or marginal land, but Indian researcher, Dr Suman Jha who worked on the D1 project disagrees. He says, “this is not a wasteland crop. It needs fertiliser, water and good management. Yes, it grows on wasteland, but it doesn’t give you any yield.”

D1 Oils planted about 257,000 hectares of Jatropha, mainly in India but it was unsuccessful and the company was compelled to move far too early.

For instance in 2006 D1 aimed to produce 2.7 tonnes of oil per hectare from areas planted with its new E1 variety, and 1.7 tonnes of oil from normal seed. That is equivalent to about 8 tonnes and 5 tonnes of seed per hectare respectively, or 3.5kg and 2kg a plant. But according to Pradip Bhar, who runs the company’s D1 Williamson Magor Bio Fuel joint venture in India’s north east, admits he has yet to achieve a fraction of that.

“Hitting 500g is the challenge,” he says. “Mortality is quite high. But if we can reach 500g in two years’ time, after that the bush will continue to grow. Our expectation is that after the fourth year we will hit 1kg. The 1.5kg mark we haven’t touched as yet.”

There has been consensus that the Indian experiment had been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, in Ghana some biofuels companies who have announced investments in Jatropha to produce biofuels have been making projections that are yet to be seen.

Gold Star Farms Ltd. claims it intends to cultivate five million acres of land to plant Jatropha for the production of biofuels for export.

One of the company’s executives, Mr. Jack Holden has said that it has commitments from farmers to grow the crop on approximately five million acres of land in Ghana.

The company, he added, plans to begin producing biodiesel at its facility in Nkawkaw, in the Eastern region of Ghana, in 2009. It is July 2009, and it is not yet known if the company has produced its first litre of biofuel from Jatropha.

Another biodiesel company, Green Fuels Biodiesel which revived silos abandoned in Ghana  for 43 years for its operations recently said it is investing in the multi-million cedi project to produce biodiesel from Jatropha seeds later in the year.

The Managing Director of Green Fuels, Mr. Joseph Karam, told the Daily Graphic newspaper that the initiative would contribute significantly towards reducing the importation of biodiesel and grease into the country.

According to him, “there is the potential to produce quality biodiesel from Jatropha, instead of spending huge sums of money to import these products, we can produce them here.”

He said 500,000 litres of biodiesel would be produced a day for the local market.

There is certainly a potential for Jatropha as a biodiesel source, but why it is recording failures rather than successes needs to be critically looked into.

There is need for sober reflections and investments in R&D to determine the full potentials of Jatropha as a viable, cost-effective and efficient non-food crop for biofuels.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Email: edogbevi@hotmail.com

No Comments
  1. ELIAS ABDALLAH says

    l am in Ghana, upper west region l want to cultivate jatropha l have more than 100hrc of land l need finance if l could be assisted.

  2. Here is a TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, BANGALORE, which can readily solve the problem in the production of First and Second generation of biofuels at global level, in a span of 20 years, that too in a sustainable way. This technology can also address food security for poor, small scale, resource-limited farmers including women. Simarouba cultivation improves soil fertility by adding organic matter to the soil. Introduction of this rainfed water prudent tree crop acts as a supplement to the regular income and helps in retaining the crop diversity. This technology can be easily adopted to surmount hunger problem at individual as well as at global level. It is a low budget agriculture technology suitable for ecologic farming and does not require intense training. It addresses the problems of biofuel generation, hunger, poverty and agricultural production in many poor countries of the tropical world. The visionaries in NCB, FAO, WHO, ICRAF, CGIAR and other organizations have to recognize the importance of this technology and implement it systematically and effectively to usher evergreen revolution.

    ——“SIMAROUBA GLAUCA CULTIVATION FOR EVERGREEN REVOLUTION”——-

    THIS WORKABLE SYSTEM CAN BE EASILY ADOPTED EVEN IN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AT GLOBAL LEVEL. This versatile tree can be easily grown as an intercrop along with the traditional annual crops without decreasing the regular annual food production. Once established, this ecofriendly tree showers following benefits on growers every year for more than 60 years, irrespective of erratic rainfall. 1. The seeds give about one ton good quality edible oil worth about Rs.30,000/ha/year. 2. The surplus oil produced can be easily trans-esterified and converted into biodiesel (FIRST GENERATION BIOFUELS) to take care of the very much needed energy requirements. 3. The oilcake (one ton/ha/year) with about 8% nitrogen is good organic manure that can fulfill the fertiliser requirements of the farmers. Its money value is about Rs.10,000/ha 4. The fruit pulp with about 12% sugar can produce as much as 10,000 liters of beverage/ha/year. The waste fruit pulp also can be gainfully employed to manufacture ethanol (to blend with petrol) (FIRST GENERATION BIOFUELS). The agricultural waste (biomass) such as shell, unwanted branches, and leaf litter (about 15 tons/ha) can be easily used to produce SECOND GENERATION BIOFUELS. This carbon neutral technology is perfectly sustainable and for the production of biofuels there is no need to destroy the virgin forests. Instead these trees help in preserving the forests since the pressure on the demand for wood is easily met by the fast growing Simarouba. 5. The leaf litter is relished very much by earthworms and it can used to produce vermicompost or compost of about 10 tons/ha/year worth Rs.30,000/ha. 6. From about 500 trees in a hectare the farmer can fell about 25 trees every year and sell for about Rs.25,000/- as it is good timber as well as fuel wood. 7. APART FROM THESE MONETARY BENEFITS, THE DECOCTION FROM LEAVES OF THE TREE (HARVESTED IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER) IS PROVEN ANTIVIRAL, ANTIBACTERIAL, ANTIAMOEBIC, ANTIMALARIAL, ANTIHELMENTIC, ANTIULCEROUS, ANTITUMOROUS, ANTICANCEROUS, ANTILEUKEMIC. THIS ENABLES THE POOR VILLAGERS TO HAVE EASY ACCESS TO CURE MANY HUMAN AND LIVESTOCK AILMENTS WITH ALMOST NO FINANCIAL BURDEN. 8. Cultivation of this tree as an intercrop without disturbing the regular food production gives an additional financial benefit of Rs.50,000/ha/year every year without fail, irrespective of the vagaries in rainfall. Thus, it gives stability at microeconomics level to the poor farmers. 9. A nation like India with about 140 million ha of land (dryland and wasteland put together) can easily attain self sufficiency in the production of edible oil, biodiesel, organic fertilisers, vermicompost, timber, just in a matter of two decades and attain stability at macroeconomics level. 10. To establish one tree it requires just Re.one only, that is Rs.500/ha, to an actual cultivator. The gestation period is about 5 years and it attains stability in production by about 10 years. 11. Its cultivation helps in establishing industries concerned to the production of first and second generation biofuels, edible oil, vegetable butter, margarine, lubricants, soaps, shampoos, other cosmetics, beverages, electricity, thermal power generation, timber, pharmaceuticals etc. at village level and thus helps in creating income generating green jobs to crores of villagers. This gives livelihood to about 30% of the population.12. This evergreen tree cultivation helps in preventing soil erosion, improving ground water position, combating desertification and checking greenhouse effect and global warming. 13. AFTER ATTAINING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, THE VILLAGERS MAY BE ADVISED TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN STANDARD EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AT THE RURAL LEVEL INVITING THE DEDICATED AND EFFICIENT TEACHERS TO IMPART BEST EDUCATION TO THEIR CHILDREN. THIS WILL AUTOMATICALLY SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF POPULATION EXPLOSON AND THREATENING POLLUTION. The additional money generated at the rural level may also be wisely invested in developing infrastructure such as water supply, sanitation, incessant electricity supply, medical facilities, transport etc. ALL THESE RESULT IN ECONOMIC SECURITY, FOOD SECURITY, BIOMANURE SECURITY, HEALTH SECURITY, FUEL SECURITY, POWER (ELECTRICITY) SECURITY, EDUCATIONAL SECURITY, EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY AT THE RURAL AND GLOBAL LEVEL. This discourages villagers from migrating to urban areas. No wonder if reverse migration begins to take place from urban to rural areas in due course of time. References: Google search: Simarouba glauca cultivation; Simarouba medicine; Simarouba glauca – Wikipedia; Simarouba Bangalore Mirror. Contact address: Dr. Syamasundar Joshi and Dr. Shantha Joshi; 23, R.B.I. Colony, Anandanagar, Bangalore; Mob:(0)94486 84021; E mail joshi.sim@gmail.com

  3. Patrick Essien says

    I am much interested in clean Energy issues. What is the prospect of Jathropha project in Ghana precisely? Why is it tha jathropha has been suffering set back and what are some of the measures put in place eradicate the problems and keep the project going? Thank you

  4. Dupont Patrick Danny says

    We are started a plantation in Ivory Coast, we do slowly but it go well
    Just we are looking for good machines because we will build a factory

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Shares