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Bioenergy > Feedstocks > Biodiesel feedstocks > Non-edible oil plants > Jatropha

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Jatropha (sometimes spelled "jathropha") is a genus of approximately 175 succulents, shrubs and trees (some are deciduous, like Jatropha curcas L.), from the family Euphorbiaceae. Plants from the genus natively occur in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean and is now found throught the tropics. Jatropha curcas, also called physic nut, is used to produce the non-edible Jatropha oil, for making candles and soap, and as an ingredient in the production of biodiesel. It is a drought-resistant perennial, growing well in marginal/poor soil and has a very high oil yield/hectare. It is easy to establish, grows relatively quickly and lives, producing seeds for 50 years. It has been used for years as a hedge plant to protect food crops from animals and livestock.

  • Since Jatropha can be grown on marginal land and around existing gardens and fields, it does not necessarily compete for cropland, unlike edible-oil [feedstocks] like soy-beans or oil palm. These qualities have made it a prime candidate for a biodiesel feedstock. While large scale jatropha plantations are being created in India, Burma, Nicaragua, Africa and elsewhere, the lack of a history of large-scale commercial cultivation, as opposed to edible-oil plants like soy-beans, means that many questions remain about the efficiency and viability of large-scale jatropha-oil production. (sources: Society for Rural Initiative for Promotion of Herbal (SRIPHL), Wikipedia)
  • Jatropha is a major potential bioenergy crop in Burma/Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa, China and India.
Jatropha Nursery in Kaffrine, Senegal




A "Sustainable Jatropha Initiative" has been proposed, to be modeled on the example of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Jatrophabook Onlus is now working on the constitution of a high profile Scientific Committee, to discuss, evaluate and propose sustainability criteria in collaboration with research centers and universities all over the world. The primary issues related to sustainable best practices are:

For each relevant topic JatrophaBook will create a specific Taskforce to discuss criteria and publish results from selected case studies.

Environmental sustainability

Greenhouse gases

A jatropha tree absorbs around 8 kg. of CO2 every year. 2500 trees can be planted in a hectare, thus, resulting in 20 tonnes of CO2 sequestration per year for the lifetime of 40-50 years. Moreover, each hectare produces an average of 1000 gallons of biodiesel per year and 3500 kg. of biomass. The usage of biodiesel results in the reduction of 3.2 kg. CO2/ liter produced by diesel. At the 78% efficiency, biodiesel will reduce in 2.5 kg. of CO2/per liter or 9.2 tons of CO2 for every hectare of plantation. The biomass produced after the oil extraction will further result in carbon reduction based on the amount of electricity generated from it.

Organic fertilizers such as cow manure can be used as the fertilizer to maximize the GHGs reduction by encouraging farmers to compost cow dung which otherwise will be a source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. More information can be obtained from plantjatropha.



Land degradation

  • Jatropha, as a perennial tree which grows well on marginal or degraded land, can be used to stop land degradation and reverse deforestation. (source: need source)
  • The seed cake, which is produced after oil is pressed from Jatropha seeds is rich in nutrients and can be made into biofertilizer to improve soil qualities.(source: need source)

Social sustainability





Jatropha in rural development

  • The "Jatropha System"
  • The Jatropha Energy System: An Integrated Approach To Decentralized And Sustainable Energy Production At The Village Level by Laurens Rademakers and Giovanni Venturini Del Greco, ISF Firenze.
    • Jatropha plantation is labor intensive hence creating jobs for poor indigenous people who otherwise are forced from their ancestral lands and displaced, having to live in extreme poor conditions in city slums. The co-operatives can be be setup with the farmers with small piece of unused/wasteland for the joint plantation. The oilseeds processing can be setup for every small region thereby providing employment locally. The by-products such as seedcake can be utilized locally either to fulfill the energy needs or making high value manure for organic farming. The local diesel vehicles or diesel generators can be modified to use the filtered oil directly to maintain the clean environment conditions. The leftover oil can then be collected from these units to process bio-diesel in a centralized location. (source: plantjatropha)









  • ‘Carbon debt’ created by some biofuels must be considered in sustainability debate, new study shows, 30 November 2011 by CIFOR: "Despite being heralded as a green alternative to fossil fuels, a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has found that carbon emissions generated from land conversion for biodiesel production may take decades to hundreds of years to reverse in some cases, raising serious questions about biodiesel sustainability."
    • "'It really matters how you produce biofuels and what land you grow it on as to whether you are going to get climate change benefits,' said Louis Verchot, CIFOR scientist and co-author of Implications of Biodiesel-Induced Land-Use Changes for CO2 Emissions: Case Studies in Tropical America, Africa, and Southeast Asia published in a special feature of Ecology and Society."
    • "Fluctuating oil prices and growing concerns about climate change have led to a renewed commitment to renewable energy, with demand for biofuels such as those produced from palm oil, jatropha and soy increasing in recent years."
    • "The strength of this work is in the comparisons between different feed stocks and different settings. 'The take-home message,' says Verchot, 'is not that biofuels are bad for the atmosphere. Rather, the results point to important considerations that must be taken into account to make biofuels sustainable.'"[2]
  • Carbon debt for some biofuels lasts centuries, 30 November 2011 by Mongabay.com: "An innovative new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) published in Ecology and Society has computed how long it would take popular biofuel crops to payoff the "carbon debt" of land conversion."
    • "While there is no easy answer—it depends on the type of land converted and the productivity of the crop—the study did find that in general soy had the shortest carbon debt, though still decades-long, while palm oil grown on peatland had the longest on average."
    • "Looking at three different types of biofuels in six countries, the study found that soy grown in parts of Brazil would require 30 years to make-up its carbon debt, which is as good as it gets. Palm oil would require 59-220 years, while jatropha would require 76-310 years, depending on the type of land that was converted."
    • "The study found that these three biofuel crops could only be deemed sustainable if grown on permanent crop or pastureland that was not already in use for growing foods, i.e. was degraded or abandoned, in order to prevent leakage."[3]
    • Download the report, Implications of Biodiesel-Induced Land-Use Changes for CO2 Emissions: Case Studies in Tropical America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
  • China Makes Its First Biofuel-Powered Flight, 1 November 2011 by Forbes: "China joined the green jet age on Friday when an Air China 747 circled Beijing on a demonstration flight powered by a plant-based biofuel made by Honeywell UOP."
    • "One of the 747-400’s engines ran on a 50-50 blend of Honeywell’s Green Jet Fuel and standard petroleum aviation fuel."
    • "The biofuel was derived from jatropha, an inedible plant grown by PetroChina, a state-owned oil company, on a plantation in southwest China and refined by Honeywell."
    • "Honeywell is working with PetroChina, Air China and Boeing to create an aviation biofuels infrastructure in China."
    • "In June, a Gulfstream G450 owned by Honeywell made the first biofuel-powered transatlantic flight when it flew from New Jersey to Paris using a 50-50 blend of Green Jet Fuel in one of its engine."[4]
  • Kenya's Tana Delta saved – for now, September 2011 by WildlifeExtra.com: "A Nairobi newspaper reports that, after consideration of the scientific evidence, Kenya's National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has decided to advise the Kenyan Government to halt the planting of the biofuel crop jatropha within the Coast region of Kenya."
    • "Proposed jatropha plantations would do irreparable damage to coastal Important Bird Areas (IBAs), including the Tana Delta and Dakatcha Woodlands."
    • "Even before NEMA's decision, a company planning to grow oil seed crops on 28,000 hectares of the Tana Delta pulled out after consultations with NatureKenya and other BirdLife Partners, citing concerns over environmental impacts and long-term climate change effects."
    • "The Tana Delta has long provided local communities with food and livelihoods. Its value to the nation includes ecosystem services such as water storage, shoreline protection and marine life spawning grounds. It also has huge tourism potential. But as demand for land to grow commodity crops has increased globally, the Tana Delta has become the focus of interest for international speculators and investors."[5]
  • The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel, 2 August 2011 by Environmental Science & Technology: "In a massive planting program of unprecedented scale millions of marginal farmers and landless people were encouraged to plant Jatropha across India through attractive schemes....Similar measures were undertaken across other developing countries involving millions of small farmers in the hope that it would not only provide renewable energy but also enhance their incomes....By 2008, Jatropha had already been planted over an estimated 900000 ha globally of which an overwhelming 85% was in Asia, 13% in Africa and the rest in Latin America, and by 2015 Jatropha is expected to be planted on 12.8 million ha worldwide."
    • "But the results are anything but encouraging. In India the provisions of mandatory blending could not be enforced as seed production fell far short of the expectation and a recent study has reported discontinuance by 85% of the Jatropha farmers....In Tanzania the results are very unsatisfactory and a research study found the net present value of a five-year investment in Jatropha plantation was negative with a loss of US$ 65 per ha on lands with yields of 2 tons/ha of seeds...."
    • "...A case study of Jatropha plantations raised in 1993–1994 in the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh had reported actual yields that were far below expectations and the species was found to be prone to termite attacks, water logging, vulnerable to drought in the planting year and delayed yields."
    • "...As an immediate step an international body like the FAO may have to intervene to stop further extension of Jatropha in new areas without adequate research inputs. Greater investments in dissemination of scientific data will help in ensuring due diligence does not cause undue delays in decision making."[6]
  • Biofuels land grab in Kenya's Tana Delta fuels talk of war, 2 July 2011 by The Guardian: "[E]viction of the [Gamba Manyatta] villagers to make way for a sugar cane plantation is part of a wider land grab going on in Kenya's Tana Delta that is not only pushing people off plots they have farmed for generations, stealing their water resources and raising tribal tensions that many fear will escalate into war, but also destroying a unique wetland habitat that is home to hundreds of rare and spectacular birds."
    • "The irony is that most of the land is being taken for allegedly environmental reasons – to allow private companies to grow water-thirsty sugar cane and jatropha for the biofuels so much in demand in the west, where green legislation, designed to ease carbon dioxide emissions, is requiring they are mixed with petrol and diesel."
    • "The delta, one of Kenya's last wildernesses and one of the most important bird habitats in Africa, is the flood plain of the Tana river, which flows 1,014km from Mount Kenya to the Indian Ocean."
    • "The delta's people are trying to fight their own government over the huge blocks of land being turned over to companies including the Canadian company, Bedford Biofuels, which was this year granted a licence by the Kenyan environmental regulator for a 10,000-hectare jatropha 'pilot' project. A UK-based firm, G4 Industries Ltd, has been awarded a licence for 28,000 hectares."[7]
  • Campaigners should support aviation industry biofuel trials, 20 April 2011 by Paul Steele of the Air Transport Action Group in The Ecologist: "Having seen the issues caused by road transport’s use of first generation sources, the aviation industry has been proactive in trying to ‘do it right,’ from the start. At the same time, the aviation industry does not have the luxury of a variety of renewable energy sources like other sectors (wind, solar, hydrogen etc) and is therefore focussed on developing second generation sustainable biofuels as a means of reducing GHG emissions."
    • "We have been working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels to set in place a set of robust criteria to determine the sustainability of feedstock, including the impact that these crops will have on local populations and lifecycle CO2 emissions. Grown responsibly, jatropha can have a positive impact on the livelihoods of those growing it and also bring about impressive reductions in carbon emissions."
    • "In fact, a recent Yale University study showed that jatropha plantations in Brazil are able to have as much as an 85 per cent decrease in lifecycle carbon emissions, when grown in a responsible way. But jatropha is just one potential source of biofuel for aviation – a range of non-food crops and advanced biomass sources such as algae promise to provide low-carbon fuel for air transport."[8]
  • Jatropha biofuel success could drive air travel go green, 12 April 2011 by IBTraveler.com: "Media reports say that biofuel produced from seeds of Jatropha, a non-edible plant, can be sucessfully used for fueling aircrafts."
    • "According to Business Matchmaking, Inc., many airlines, including Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand, Continental, Brazil's TAM Airlines and most recently the Mexican carrier Interjet, in cooperation with European manufacturer Airbus, successfully tested the oil produced from Jatropha seeds as a potential substitute for traditional jet fuel."
    • "Mexico is one of the few countries pursuing the production of bio-fuel from Jatropha for a couple of years now. As the weed widely became known for producing oil that could be used to fuel jet planes, the Mexican government wanted farmers to grow entire fields of it to turn into biodiesel."
    • "The United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization has established the goal of reducing aviation-related carbon-dioxide emissions and the use of renewable fuels."[9]
  • Biofuel Takes Off With Jatropha Demonstration in Mexico, 4 April 2011 by Clean Techies: "The aviation industry has a significant impact (2%) on the global carbon footprint and it’s looking for ways to mitigate it with alternative fuels."
    • "One of the latest news from this industry is that Honeywell successfully powered an Interjet Airbus A320-214 during a flight between Mexico City and Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas with its Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced using the company’s UOP process technology."
    • "The UOP process converted Mexican-sourced jatropha into fuel."
    • "The process is based on hydroprocessing technology commonly used in today’s refineries to produce transportation fuels. In this process, hydrogen is added to remove oxygen from natural oils produced from sustainable feedstocks, including camelina, jatropha and algae."
    • "When used within as much as a 50 percent blend with petroleum-derived jet fuel, the blended fuel is a drop-in replacement that meets all of the critical specifications for flight, including a freeze point at -47 degrees Celsius and a flash point at 38 degrees Celsius."[10]
  • Boeing Releases Study On Jatropha Sustainable For Aviation Fuel, 3 April 2011 by AvStop.com: "Boeing released research conducted by Yale University's School of Environmental Studies showing significant potential for sustainable aviation fuel based on jatropha-curcas, an oil-producing, non-edible plant."
    • "The study shows that, if cultivated properly, jatropha can deliver strong environmental and socioeconomic benefits in Latin America and greenhouse gas reductions of up to 60 percent when compared to petroleum-based jet fuel."
    • "A key study finding identifies prior land-use as the most important factor driving greenhouse gas benefits of a jatropha jet fuel. If Jatropha is planted on land previously covered in forest, shrubs or native grasses, benefits may disappear altogether. If the crop is planted on land that was already cleared or degraded, then additional carbon is stored and emissions reductions can exceed the 60 percent baseline."
    • "A second important finding is that early jatropha projects suffered from a lack of developed seed strains, which led to poor crop yields. Advancing jatropha seed technology through private and government research is critical and many Latin American countries are now engaged in supporting such technology development."[11]
  • Boeing study: Biofuel shows ‘significant potential’, 31 March 2011 by Puget Sound Business Journal: "Boeing Co. said a study of using the jatropha-curcas plant as biofuel showed 'significant potential.'"
    • "Researchers studied the environmental and other benefits of the jatropha, an oil-producing and non-edible plant found in Mexico and Central America."
    • "'The study shows that, if cultivated properly, jatropha can deliver strong environmental and socioeconomic benefits in Latin America and greenhouse gas reductions of up to 60 percent when compared to petroleum-based jet fuel,' Boeing said in a statement."[12]
  • Swedes eye budding biofuels industry, 25 March 2011 by Mmegi Online: "The Swedish government and its private sector are hoping to secure a foothold in Botswana's nascent biofuels industry that kicked off recently with plans for a five million-litre per annum processing plant."
    • "Specifically, the Swedes hope to be involved in jatropha research, the "wonder plant" whose cultivation and oil are expected to fuel the processing plant government plans to purchase this year."
    • "According to the MoU, the Scandinavian nation is also interested in biodiesel production from animal fat and biogas production from cow dung."
    • "The Swedes also hope to cooperate with Botswana in the development of strategies on energy efficiency for the transport sector, as well as on renewable energies and biomass - the renewable energy from biological material."
    • "Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) CEO, Jacob Raleru, stressed that the country's energy policy requires 25 percent of all electricity to be from solar power by 2030."[13]
  • Kenya biofuel project opposed, 23 March 2011 by AFP: "The Kenyan franchise of Italy's Nuove Iniziative Industriali is planning to farm 50,000 hectares of jatropha near Malindi, a seaside tourist resort in southern Kenya."
    • "'Taking into account the emissions produced throughout the production and consumption process... jatropha would emit between 2.5 and six times more greenhouse gases,' said ActionAid, Nature Kenya and the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds."
    • "The groups said the project is driven by commercial interests in Europe where the European Union has set a target to produce 10 percent of transport energy from biofuels by 2020."
    • "The United Nations Environment Programme said in 2009 that jatropha can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions if grown on degraded land, but can also be carbon intensive if its farming entails land use changes."[14]
  • Demand for biofuels expected to rise 20%-30% annually, 18 February 2011 by ChannelNewsAsia.com: "This week, the European parliament voted for new rules that require lower emissions from commercial vehicles."
    • "Biofuels Asia said it expects demand for biofuels to increase between 20 and 30 per cent annually for the next decade. And it is rooting for Jatropha to tap that potential."
    • "Some analysts estimate that the 900,000 hectare of Jatropha planted globally could produce roughly 1.8 million tons of crude Jatropha oil every year."[16]
  • Laws needed to guide biofuels development, 9 February 2011 by Business Daily Africa: "We have recently seen debates on a proposed large-scale foreign investment for 'jatropha' biodiesel crop in the Tana Delta area. The debate is an indication that we need national policies to guide biofuel development and also large-scale leasing of community lands by foreign enterprises."
    • "Over the last few years, many countries have been reassessing their strategies on biofuels especially where biofuels developments are in direct competition with national food self sufficiency and where they interfere with existing primary forests."
    • "The draft policy and strategy for biodiesel in Kenya centers mainly around rural communities primarily in semi-arid areas, where locally grown diesel crops (jatropha, croton, castor etc) would provide affordable and cleaner alternative rural energy for lighting and heating using locally customised equipment."
    • "With renewed focus on food crops in marginal areas, it is highly unlikely that the government will wish to emphasise promotion of biodiesel crops like jatropha in the same areas."[17]
  • Biofuel jatropha falls from wonder-crop pedestal, 21 January 2011 by Reuters: "Jatropha, a biofuel-producing plant once touted as a wonder-crop, is turning out to be much less dependable than first thought, both environmentalists and industry players say."
    • "Some biofuel producers found themselves agreeing with many of the criticisms detailed in a report launched by campaign group Friends of the Earth this week -- 'Jatropha: money doesn't grow on trees.'"
    • "Jatropha has been widely heralded as a wonder plant whose cultivation on non-arable land in Africa, Asia and Latin America would provide biodiesel and jobs in poor countries without using farmland needed to feed growing numbers of local people."
    • "'Jatropha is not the miracle crop that many people think it is,' said Dominic Fava, business development manager of British biofuels firm D1 Oils, which processes jatropha grown in Asia and Africa."
    • "'The idea that jatropha can be grown on marginal land is a red herring,' Harry Stourton, Business Development Director of UK-based Sun Biofuels, which cultivates jatropha in Mozambique and Tanzania, told Reuters."
    • "'It does grow on marginal land, but if you use marginal land you'll get marginal yields,' he said."[18]


  • Brazil airline successfully tests aviation biofuel, 23 November 2010 by Stan Lehman: "Brazil's largest airline announced Tuesday that it has successfully conducted what it called the first experimental flight in Latin America using aviation biofuel."
    • "The statement said the biofuel was mixed half and half with conventional aviation kerosene."
    • "Continental, Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and KLM have held similar experimental flights with biofuel produced from Jatropha and other materials such as coconut oil, algae and the camelina oil seed."[19]
  • Biofuel crops fuel worry, 21 November 2010 by Jayashree Nandi: "It might be about time the state asks how green are biofuels. Karnataka, India, is going to be one of the few states to heavily invest in biofuels. It has already covered an area of 13.5 lakh ha and the newly-formed Biofuels Board is going to commence operations next week."
    • "Farmers are being encouraged to plant honge and jatropha, along with regular food crops in a multi-cropping pattern. In the long run, this could mean gradual conversion of farmland into biofuel production units."
    • "While according to officials most of the planting has happened on wasteland, there's no agency to certify what's a wasteland. Some of these plantations are also being done on forestland."
    • "From being a recommendatory body, now the taskforce will be converted to a facilitating body that will route funds for projects from state and central government. Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand have already constituted biofuel boards."[20]
  • Reality check for 'miracle' biofuel crop, 27 October 2010 by Miyuki Iiyama and James Onchieku: "It sounds too good to be true: a biofuel crop that grows on semi-arid lands and degraded soils, replaces fossil fuels in developing countries and brings huge injections of cash to poor smallholders."
    • "In an attempt to test the claims, Endelevu Energy, the World Agroforestry Centre and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute embarked on the Reality Check study supported by the German government, which we published last December."
    • "The main finding of the Reality Check is that jatropha is not economically viable when grown by smallholders in Kenya, either in a monoculture or intercrop plantation model. This is due to low yields and high production costs, and a lack of guidelines for applying agronomic and silvicultural best practices."[21]
  • Biofuels Don't Threaten Food Security - Study, 30 August 2010 by Catherine Riungu: "'Crops can be produced for bioenergy on a significant scale in West, East and Southern Africa without affecting food production or natural habitats,' said the joint report by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, Imperial College London, and Camco International."
    • "'If approached with the proper policies and processes and with the inclusion of all the various stakeholders, bioenergy is not only compatible with food production; it can greatly benefit agriculture in Africa,' said Rocio Diaz-Chavez, the report's lead author and research fellow at Imperial College, London."
    • 'Bioenergy production can bring investments in land, infrastructure and human resources that could help unlock Africa's idle potential and positively increase food production,' she added."
    • "Among the report's findings is that there is enough land to significantly increase the cultivation of crops such as sugarcane, sorghum, and jatropha for biofuels without diminishing food production."[22]
  • Land grabbing for biofuels hits Ghana, other African countries – Report, 30 August 2010 by Emmanuel K. Dogbevi: "There appears to be a gradual but ominous attempt to turn Africa into the production centre of some selected food crops and non-food crops for the production of biofuels to feed industry and vehicles in Europe."
    • "According to [a recent report by the environmental group, Friends of the Earth International], a third of the land sold or acquired in Africa, some five million hectares is intended for fuel crops."
    • "The report profiles land-grab cases that have happened in 11 African countries, most of which is being used or intended to be used to grow biofuel crops like Jatropha and palm oil."
    • "The report indicated further that concerns about energy supply appear to be a key driver behind the demand for agrofuel crops – with the EU aiming for 10% of transport fuel to come from “renewable” sources by 2010. These EU targets have established a clear market – which given land prices and the lack of available land within the EU will inevitably be met by imports."[23]
  • Lack of science means jatropha biofuel 'could fail poor', 9 August 2010 by Papiya Bhattacharyya: "Mass planting of jatropha as a biofuel crop could benefit poor areas as well as combating global warming, but only if a number of scientific and production issues are properly addressed, a review has warned."
    • "Growing jatropha for biofuel on degraded land unsuitable for food and cash crops could help improve the earnings of small farmers and counter poverty, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the review published last month."
    • "But Balakrishna Gowda, biofuel project coordinator in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, where jatropha is grown, and professor at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, said that it would be unrealistic to expect jatropha to reverse poverty 'overnight' in developing countries. 'The plant requires water and nutrition like any other plant [even if it grows on degraded land],' he told SciDev.Net. 'And it takes at least five to seven years for the plants to mature and grow their first fruit. We can rule out expectations of a great 'overnight' yield.'"[24]
  • Mozambique to get 19 million dollar biofuels project, 9 August 2010 by AFP: "Mozambique's state fuel company has partnered with the private sector to invest 19 million dollars (14 million euros) in biofuel production, state media reported on Monday."
    • "National supplier Petromoc, Portuguese fuel company Galp and biodiesel producer Ecomoz will produce biodiesel in the northern Manica province from jatropha curcas plantations, Noticias newspaper reported."
    • "A minimum of 10,000 hectares will be cultivated at first, with possible expansion to 50,000 hectares later, the paper reported."[25]
  • Kenyan Environmentalists oppose biofuel project, 21 June 2010 by Rosalia Omungo: "The Dakatcha area which is a breeding ground for Clarke's weaver, a bird's species that is only found in two places on earth, Kenya and Arabuko-Sokoke forest in South Africa has been earmarked for destruction to pave way for commercial farming of Jatropha plant as an alternative source of energy."
    • "Executive Director of Nature Kenya, Paul Matiku said "Nature Kenya oppossed the growing of the plant by an Italian investor under the name Kenya Jatropha Energy Limited, because this plant is poisonous it has been banned in South Africa, and Australia and declared poisonous to humans and likely to produce more greenhouse gases."
    • "He added that the local people of Dakatcha, the local conservationists, national and global conservation community is obliged to reject the growing of the plant for it does not help people, destroys biodiversity, removes invaluable ecological services and is not economically viable."[27]
  • China, US launch airline biofuel venture, 26 May 2010 by By Joe McDonald: "The United States and China launched a research venture Wednesday to develop biofuels for use by Chinese airlines based on algae or oily nuts and said an inaugural flight could come as early as this year."
    • "The two sides signed a series of research partnerships between Boeing Co., U.S. government agencies and Chinese research institutions and state companies including Air China Ltd. and PetroChina Ltd."
    • "The first flight in China using biofuels could happen this year, and the fuel could be in use in commercial aviation in three to five years, said Al Bryant, Boeing's vice president for research and technology in China. He said four test flights using biofuels have been flown successfully in the United States."
    • "Chinese companies have yet to decide which plants to use as a fuel source, but researchers are looking at algae and jatropha, a tree grown in south China that produces an oily nut, Bryant said."[29]
  • Weed to Wonder Fuel? Jatropha Draws Biofuel Investors - and Questions, 13 April 2010 by SolveClimate.com: "In the world of biofuels, the pattern is familiar: Concerns grow over one crop’s impacts or overhyped potential, and another then appears to take its place with promises of planet-saving prowess."
    • "The latest savior is jatropha, a drought-resistant and hardy plant that supposedly can deliver high energy yields on marginal land and eliminate concerns about food competing with fuel for farmland."
    • "As of 2008, 242 jatropha biofuel projects covered 2.2 million acres; those numbers are likely much higher now....The Global Exchange for Social Investment predicted in its 2008 report that 32 million acres would be in production by 2015."
    • "Achieving [estimated] yields [of 200 gallons of oil per acre per year] on a large scale, though, will most likely require better than 'marginal' lands and better than primitive farming practices."
    • "Also, research into jatropha’s potential as a greenhouse gas emissions saver has yet to be fully explored. The major sticking point that arose with corn ethanol, sugarcane and other feedstocks is the concept of indirect land use changes and other elements of total lifecycle emissions that reduce the overall benefits".[30]
  • GEM Biofuels commences crude jatropha oil shipment to Australia, East (sic) Germany, 11 January 2010 by BiofuelsDigest: "In Madagascar, GEM Biofuels will commence commercial production and shipment of crude jatropha oil later this month with 60 tons of oil shipping to Australia and East (sic) Germany."
    • "GEM has secured 50 year agreements giving exclusive rights over 452,500 hectares (in excess of 1 million acres) to establish plantations, ranging in size from 6,000 – 125,000 acres with a further 100,000 acres of natural forest containing substantial numbers of mature Jatropha trees." [31]
  • Aviation turns to China for biofuels capacity development, 13 September 2009 by Biofuels Digest: The "global aviation industry, which has set a target of 3 billion gallons of aviation biofuels by 2020, has begun an historic shift in focus to Chinese leadership in biofuels capacity development".
    • "In related news, Boeing confirmed that it has commenced talks with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and 'several Chinese universities' about a potential development of low-carbon aviation biofuels. CCTV is reporting that near-term opportunities for collaboration between Boeing and China’s alternative energy industry could focus on jatropha development in Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. According to Xinhua News Agency, China is projecting '13 million hectares of biofuel plantations by 2020,' primarily to meet increased internal energy needs."[32]
  • African Jatropha Boom Raises Concerns, 8 October 2009 by The New York Times Green Inc. blog: "Once the darling of biofuel enthusiasts, jatropha is raising concerns."
    • "In a report leaked to The East African newspaper last week, Envirocare, an environmental and human rights organization, highlighted the impact of the jatropha trade in Tanzania — including concerns over the displacement of farmers, water consumption, and the substitution of food crops for biofuels."
    • "Indeed, of 13 potential bioenergy crops analyzed...in a study...in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, rapeseed and jatropha were found to be the least water-efficient biofuels."
    • "Mr. Ruud Van Eck, the chief executive of Diligent Energy Systems, a Dutch jatropha developer working in Tanzania, is among business executives who have contested the findings on the water footprint of jatropha."[33]
  • BP Gives up on Jatropha for Biofuel, 17 July 2009 by the Wall Street Journal's blog Environmental Capital: "BP has indeed given up on jatropha, the shrub once touted as the great hope for biofuels, and walked away from its jatropha joint venture for less than $1 million."
    • "Speculation abounded this summer that BP was ready to jettison its participation in the project with British partner partner D1 Oils. The original plan called for the investment of $160 million to turn the jatropha tree into feedstock to make transportation fuel. Now, BP will turn its alternative-fuel efforts toward ethanol in Brazil and the U.S., as well as biobutanol."
    • Jatropha, "the inedible but hardy plant that just a few years ago seemed like it could revolutionize biofuels has turned into a bust. The initial attraction was that it grows on marginal land, so it wouldn’t compete with food crops. But marginal land means marginal yields. And jatropha turned out to be a water hog as well, further darkening its environmental credentials."[34]
  • Biofuels do well as jet fuel, Boeing says, 22 June 2009 by The Oregonian: "Good news for the struggling biofuels industry: The plant-derived fuels perform favorably as jet fuel, a study by Boeing and others in the aviation industry has concluded."
    • "The study also showed the biofuel blends used in the test flight program met or exceeded all technical parameters for commercial jet aviation fuel. Those standards include freezing point, flash point, fuel density and viscosity, among others."
    • "Each of the test flights used a different blend of biofuel sources: An Air New Zealand flight used fuel derived from jatropha; a Continental flight used a blend of jatropha and algae-based fuels; and a Japan Airlines flight used a blend of jatropha, algae and camelina-based fuels."[35]
  • Bioenergy Makes Heavy Demands On Scarce Water Supplies, 4 June 2009 by ScienceDaily: "The 'water footprint' of bioenergy, i.e. the amount of water required to cultivate crops for biomass, is much greater than for other forms of energy. The generation of bioelectricity is significantly more water-efficient in the end, however – by a factor of two – than the production of biofuel. By establishing the water footprint for thirteen crops, researchers at the University of Twente were able to make an informed choice of a specific crop and production region. They published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of 2 June."
    • "By linking the water consumption to the location and climate data, it is possible to select the optimum production region for each crop. This makes it easier to prevent biomass cultivation from jeopardizing food production in regions where water is already in short supply".
    • "Water that is used for bioenergy – whether it be for a food crop such as maize or a non-food crop such as jatropha – cannot be used for food production, for drinking water or for maintaining natural eco-systems."[36]
  • For Greening Aviation, Are Biofuels The Right Stuff?, 11 June 2009 by environment360: "Preliminary results from an Air New Zealand test flight in December show that burning biofuels — in this case jet fuel refined from jatropha oil — can cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent compared to conventional fuel. And, as a bonus, about 1.4 metric tons of fuel could be saved on a 12-hour flight using a biofuel blend."
    • "The overwhelming challenge is how to produce enough biofuel to supply even a fraction of the more than 60 billion gallons of jet fuel burned every year by the world’s aircraft....Non-food plant sources, such as jatropha and camelina, are promising, but difficult to produce in large quantities and can end up displacing food crops or lead to deforestation if the price of fuel rises high enough."[37]
  • Korean firms set to invest $475M on biofuel plants, 29 May 2009 by BusinessWorld: Manila, Philippines--local firms sign "an agreement with South Korean companies to put up two biofuel plants costing a combined $475 million."
    • Two agreements signed for bioethanol and biodiesel production.
    • "...bioethanol producer Enviro Plasma, Ltd. and Central Luzon Bioenergy Corp. will put up a 500,000-liter per day bioethanol plant worth $300 million in Clark, Pampanga with sugarcane feedstock from 46,000 hectares of plantation..."
    • "South Korean biodiesel producer Eco Solutions Co., Ltd. and partner Eco Global Bio-Oils, Inc. will invest $175 million to put up a biodiesel plant capable of producing 100,000 liters of biodiesel per day...Eco Solutions had committed to invest at least 100,000 hectares to plant jatropha".
  • Why Ghana is attracting investments in biofuels, 31 January 2009 by Ghana Business News: "Ghana has become a major centre of attraction for the cultivation of biofuels in Africa for a number of reasons," including agricultural productivity, political stability and labor costs.
    • "Currently, the country features prominently on the radar of alternative energy interests, especially in the cultivation of the non-food plant jatropha for the production of biofuels."
    • "[C]ompanies from Brazil, Italy, Norway, Israel, China, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and India" have invested in projects in "the Volta, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and the Northern regions of Ghana," mainly for jatropha.
    • "While its supporters argue that [jatropha] can be grown on semi-arid land and so poses less of a threat to food output than other biofuel feedstocks such as grains and vegetable oils, its opponents argue that investors are taking away productive agriculture land from poor local farmers for the purpose."
    • "Currently, there is an ongoing debate, accusations and counter-accusations of land grabbing between NGOs, Action Aid and FoodSPAN on one hand and Rural Consult, a consultancy firm on biofuels on the other."[38]
  • The Blunder Crop: a Biofuels Digest special report on jatropha biofuels development, 24 March 2009 by Biofuels Digest: SG Biofuels, Mission New Energy and GEM are being successful in developing jatropha projects, but "[w]ell-organized efforts are in the minority. More typical: back-of-the-comic book jatropha seed and seedling marketers that prey on the hopes and fears of cash-strapped farmers; the farcical disaster that has developed in Myanmar’s national biofuels project; and a number of non-profits (some well-organized, some dreamy) running around in Haiti trying to save the country from deforestation with projects as small as one designed to provide heat and power to a local bakery."
    • "Jatropha is realizing less than half its projected yields in most projects, and less than a third of optimistic estimates that led jatropha to be labeled 'the wonder crop'."
    • "The problem? Countries like Myanmar that planned 8 million acres of jatropha and then forgot about harvesting technology, crushers, biodiesel processing or anything approaching a distribution system. The Result? Jatropha seeds rotting in Myanmar’s fields. The cure? Getting back to sound planning, extensive soil testing, and excellence in project management."[39]
    • This article provides detailed information about jatropha-related projects in China, Africa, India, Myanmar, and Haiti.
  • Toxic jatropha shrub fuels Mexico's biodiesel push, 10 March 2009 by Reuters: Jatropha "is a hearty shrub that grows with no special care. Its oil-rich seeds are being eyed as an attractive feed stock for biofuel since the poisonous plant does not compete with food crops."
    • "Now India is planting the bush en masse, converting it into a green energy source used to power trains and buses with less pollution than crude oil. Mexico hopes to follow suit."
    • "President Felipe Calderon signed an agreement with the president of Colombia in January to build a 14.5 million peso ($936,000) experimental biodiesel plant in southern Mexico with a production capacity of 12,000 liters (3,170 gallons) of biofuel a day."
    • "Mexico passed a law last year to push developing biofuels that don't threaten food security and the agriculture ministry has since identified some 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of land with a high potential to produce jatropha."[40]
  • Continental to Test Flight Powered by Biofuel, 8 December 2008, by MSNBC:
    • "Continental Airlines Inc. said Monday it will test the use of a biofuel blend to power one of its jetliners on a flight that won't carry any passengers."
    • "Airlines are studying the use of alternative fuels to help deal with volatile jet fuel prices that spiked to record highs this summer, and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases."
    • "Continental said the plane on the Jan. 7 flight in Houston will use a special blend of half conventional fuel and half biofuel with ingredients derived from algae and jatropha plants." [41]
  • Air NZ sees biofuel salvation in jatropha, 6 June 2008 by Carbonpositive: "In the race to develop a viable aviation biofuel, Air New Zealand and Boeing are banking on the jatropha plant to deliver the cost-effective, green alternative they need."..."The airline has announced a goal to supply 10 per cent of its aviation fuel needs from biofuels by 2013."
  • Myanmar biofuel drive deepens food shortage , 13 May 2008 by AFP: "Myanmar is struggling to feed its people in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis -- in part because the regime has been forcing some farmers to stop growing rice in a plan to produce biofuel instead."
    • In 2005 the military government's leader Than Shwe ordered a national drive to plant jatropha, a poisonous nut he hoped would be the cornerstone of a state industry that would capitalise on growing world demand for biofuels.
  • JatrophaWorld 2008 - Global Jatropha Industry Platform for latest Information on Jatropha, Over 350 delegates from 40 countries were at JatrophaWorld 2008 in Jakarta, Indonesia on 23-24 January. A panel of internationally acclaimed experts delivered insightful speeches on Jatropha plantation management, project finance, agronomy, Carbon trading, CDM financing, and applications of Jatropha and Jatropha by products. The second conference in the JatrophaWorld 2008 series will be held in Miami on 10-11 June 2008.
  • India to unveil bio-fuel policy in March , 1 February 2008 by Sify business, reports that India's government plans to issue a policy on biofuels in early March, which could boost plantings of jatropha. Sources say that India has thirty million hectares of unused land that is suitable for jatropha and other crops for biofuels.
  • India plans new biofuel mission, 11 April 2007 from Monstersandcritics.com. India is planning a new biofuel plan with a focus on jatropha and karanj. The first phase would cover 400,000 ha and the second 11.2 million ha of land. There are challenges to implementation, including the reluctance of farmers to invest in a crop like jatropha that doesn't yield seeds until the third year.
  • Philippine's biofuels project gets P$1 billion funding 9 November 2006 from the Manila Standard. "A P1-billion fund has been earmarked for the development of the biofuel industry, using jatropha (tubang bakod) as a fuel source. The Philippine National Oil Company Petrochemicals Corp. and the National Development Co. will each contribute P500 million to the project"
  • Tanzania begins biofuel production November 5, 2006 from Biopact. "Sun Biofuel Tanzania Limited (SBF) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Dar es Salaam and Kisarawe district authorities for the production of bio-fuel" from jatropha curcas (locally known as mkaranga), planted on 18, 000 hectares of land.


Look here for more detailed information on a specific country's or region's policies, organizations and industry.

External Resources

  • www.jatropha.org - A website on the Jatropha System run by Bagani, a renewable energy consulting service.
  • www.jatrophaworld.org - The Center for Jatropha Promotion is a web-site produced by the Society for Rural Initiatives for Promotion of Herbals (SRIPHL ) based inChuru, Rajasthan, India, "a non profit, non-government organization devoted to improving lives of rural farmers."
  • Terasol LABS - Terasol LABS is a leading global company focused on biodiesel crop science. We are based in Chennai, India with offices in Brazil and the United States.



Jatropha edit
Jatropha in rural development | Sustainable Jatropha Initiative
Multifunctional platform
Bioenergy feedstocks edit

Biodiesel feedstocks:
Currently in use: Animal fat | Castor beans | Coconut oil | Jatropha | Jojoba | Karanj | Palm oil | Rapeseed | Soybeans | Sunflower seed | Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO)
Currently in research and development: Algae | Halophytes (Salt-tolerant plants)

Ethanol feedstocks:
First-generation: Cassava | Corn | Milo | Nypa palm | Sorghum | Sugar beets | Sugar cane | Sugar palm |Sweet potato | Waste citrus peels | Wheat | Whey
Second-generation: For cellulosic technology - Grasses: Miscanthus, Prairie grasses, Switchgrass | Trees: Hybrid poplar, Mesquite, Willow

Charcoal feedstocks: Bamboo | Wood
Waste-to-energy (MSW)

Types of bioenergy edit

Gases: Biopropane | Biogas | Synthetic natural gas | Syngas
Liquids: Biodiesel | Biobutanol | Biogasoline | Biokerosene | Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) | Dimethyl ether (DME)
ETBE | Ethanol | Methanol | Pure plant oil (PPO) | Pyrolysis oil | Synthetic Natural Gas
Solids: Biomass pellets | Char/Charcoal | Wood


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