Jatropha in Zambia The Governments Incentives
Growing Jatropha in Zambia could be good; this is one of the alternative renewable energy sources!
Jatropha is an oil plant, but it is not edible. This in itself makes jatropha growing a disadvantage, especially at this time in Zambia when the industry is still finding its feet.
However, corn and rice are also sources of bio-fuel but their yields are relatively low compared to Jatropha.
The Jatropha plant is grown in almost all tropical and sub-tropical countries.
Here are the advantages of growing the plant
- Jatropha produces more yields, twice that of rice and ten times that of corn.
- The crop can grow in arid conditions or any kind of land.
- It does not require irrigation.
- It increases the fertility of land in which it is grown.
- It is fast growing. Yields of oil can be obtained starting from the second year up to fifty years.
- It can be used as a protection to agriculture fields as animals do not browse the plant.
- The press cake, left after pressing the oil can be used as fertiliser.
At the moment the plant is used for live fencing in Eastern, Western and Northern provinces of Zambia. Indeed, Jatropha is a plant which grows wild and is also used for medicinal purposes. Oil is extracted from seeds which are encased in pods when they become ripe.
Currently, the Zambian government is supporting Jatropha growers through a national oil press programme where farmer groups are being assisted with oil expellers.
But more is needed. The market requires that the government should release bio-fuel blending ratios. You can check the definition of bio-fuel or bio-diesel
The ratios will determine how much percentage mix of bio-fuel products should be in the total petroleum diesel. Once the blending ratios are released, this will assure Jatropha growers of a ready market.
However, the blending ratios have been released indirectly through the sixth national development plan (SNDP), which suggests that from now to 2015, petrol shall be blended with bio-ethanol and diesel with bio-diesel.
So far, progress has been made. For example, the definition of fuel has now included bio-fuel in the statutory instrument 42 (2008) of Zambia.
Also, the Zambia Bureau of Standards has developed a framework of standards for bio-ethanol and bio-diesel.
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