The Arusha Times

Issue 00580

August 15 - 21, 2009

issn 0856 - 9135 



Jatropha agriculture gains momentum

by Happy Lazaro

The United States of America has given Tanzania Tsh.6.5 billion (US Dollars 5.4 million) for development of Jatropha farming in rural areas.

The American government issued the money through its development agency (USAID) under a Jatropha agriculture and nutrition initiative (JANI) project.

Jatropha plants

The Minister for Environment in the Vice Presidentís Office, Dr. Batilda Burian announced the project financing at the recently ended Nane Nane fair at the Themi grounds in Arusha.

The announcement was contained in her speech read on her behalf by the Arusha Regional Commissioner Isidore Leka Shirima. She also called for development of Jatropha farming in the villages to alleviate peasantsí poverty.

She said the project would boost the peasantsí income and  give them higher purchasing power  that would lead to improved  nutrition.

The  Director of Tanzania Jatropha Products, Lilian Mkonye said  the project covered Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Singida regions and Kondoa district in Dodoma region.

From April 2009 to March 2012  the project is due for expanding to Tabora, Mara, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Kagera. Some 30,000  to 50,000 homesteads are expected to be reached and  about  6,800 farmers had joined the project in the first regions  covered.

The other project stakeholders were Partners for Development (PFD), FAIDA Mali and Global Services Corps Tanzania.

Jatropha oil is vegetable oil produced from the seeds of the Jatropha curcas, a plant that can grow in marginal lands and common lands. Jatropha curcas grows almost anywhere, even on gravelly, sandy and saline soils. It can also thrive on the poorest stony soil and grow in the crevices of rocks.

When jatropha seeds are crushed, the resulting jatropha oil can be processed to produce a high-quality biodiesel that can be used in a standard diesel car, while the residue (press cake) can also be processed and used as biomass feedstock to power electricity plants or used as fertilizer (it contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium).

The plant may yield more than four times as much fuel per hectare as soybean, and more than ten times that of maize . A hectare of jatropha has been claimed to produce 1,892 litres of fuel . However, as it has not yet been domesticated or improved by plant breeders, yields are variable


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