Jatropha

The Jatropha plant produces a seed that contains a large amount of oil which makes it a good choice for biofuel production.

The seeds contain between 27-40% oil, but that is dependent on the plant variety as there are many, and the environment in which it is grown.

The seed yield of Jatropha varies widely. Under cultivation, the yield can be from 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms per hectare. This corresponds to extractable oil yields of 540 to 680 litres per hectare.

Jatropha can be grown on marginal land, but that tends as with other crops to produce marginal yields.

Jatropha can be intercropped with other cash crops such as sugar and coffee, and fruits and vegetables.

The plant comes in many varieties.  There are approximately 175 plants in the genus.

The variety Jatropha Curcas is used to produce the non-edible Jatropha oil for bio fuel.  Soap and candles can also be made from the oil.  The bio mass remaining from the seed pressing can be used as fuel, fertilizer or sometimes animal feed stock.

This variety Jatropha Curcas is also known as the physic nut.

 Written by Fiona Johnson

July 2011

More articles about agriculture in Africa