Bio-diesel production from Jatropha (Jatropha carcus) | Postharvest handling, Value Addition and Marketing (Value Addition)

§Jatrophais a major alternative source of energy. Bio-diesel can be extracted fromJatropha and used as alternative fuel for household and motor industry.Jatropha seed yields 31% to 37% oil. §Aformidable driving force to use biofuel comes from the notion that dependencyon fossils oil contributes to global warming, emission of greenhouse gasses andassociated human health hazards. §Theuse of fossil fuel pollutes the environment with carbon di Read more..

Description of the technology or innovation

§ Jatrophais a major alternative source of energy. Bio-diesel can be extracted fromJatropha and used as alternative fuel for household and motor industry.Jatropha seed yields 31% to 37% oil.

§ Aformidable driving force to use biofuel comes from the notion that dependencyon fossils oil contributes to global warming, emission of greenhouse gasses andassociated human health hazards.

§ Theuse of fossil fuel pollutes the environment with carbon dioxide (CO2) which inturn causes global warming. Fossil fuel is expensive and most rural poor andurban dwellers struggle to afford fuel energy.

§ Jatrophacurcas grows almost anywhere from very dry to humid areas. It can thrive ingravelly, sandy, saline and even on the poorest stony soil. Jatropha is easy to establish, growsrelatively quickly and is hardy. Being drought tolerant, it can be used toreclaim eroded areas, be grown as a boundary fence or live hedge in the aridand semi-arid areas.

§ Privatecompanies have collaborated with farmers in coastal Kenya to grow over 60,000Jatropha plants for bio-diesel. Other small-scale farmers within Kenya andUganda are growing local Jatropha varieties and extracting bio-diesel for homeuse.

§ Thistechnology can be up-scaled in all the countries in ECA.


Scaling-up approaches

Farmers: The farmers in ASAL will commercialiseJatropha as a cash crop for bio-diesel production to generate employment andcreate jobs where poverty and unemployment are high.


Private companies: Companies in the agro-processingindustries will stimulate new ways to operate markets in the energy sector inorder to fuel the future.


Government: Governments will reduce dependence onimported petroleum and save on foreign exchange used to import fuel.


Who are the users of thetechnology / or innovation?

Value addition in Jatropha is critical to make theproduction economically viable. Farmers must be supplied with planting materialof superior quality and produce high oil content. Marketing is crucial becausemany farmers lack information on marketing strategies.

Current situation and future scaling up

§ Currentenergy policies do not offer favourable incentives to promote bio-fuelproduction.

§ Privatesector should be willing to invest in bio-fuel production and developcommercial refineries to bring down the cost of production.


Recommendations to address these challenges include:

§ Masspropagation of Jatropha planting materials for farmers. This will ensurefarmers have access to improved varieties.

§ Socialeconomic analysis on Jatropha production. This will enable farmers growJatropha as a commercial crop to generate extra income.

§ Formationof joint business venture between public and private sector in bio-fuel sector.These will address critical stages of the product value chain.

§ Marketingof Jatropha seeds. Marketing will stimulate idle land to be utilised forJatropha production.

§ Trainingof farmers on agronomic practices in order to improve on Jatropha productivity.

§ Consumersand producers must be educated on marketing, energy policy regulations and onsustainable production in order to recognise that Jatropha offers a renewableenergy without greenhouse gas emissions, without health hazards and can reducedependency on foreign oil.

§ Jointbusiness venture between public and private sector in bio-fuel productionshould be formed and supported by government policies.

§ Farmers,processors and marketers should be trained on production of Jatropha as anexcellent alternative major source of bio-diesel renewable energy in the drierrural areas of Africa.

Government must be committed to supporting public andprivate partnerships in the bio-fuel energy sector.

Gender considerations

§ Farmersin organised groups with vast land areas adopt the technology faster than thosewho are not in any organisation.

§ Farmersshould also be engaged in other economic activities to supplement income fromJatropha production.

Application guidelines for the users

§ Jatrophacan be grown on a wide range of climatic conditions. Good quality farmlandsmust be spared for growing food crops.

§ Theland for Jatropha cultivation should be developed with suitable soil and waterconservation measures to ensure that enough rainwater is stored in the soil andsoil loss is minimised.

§ Avoidgrowing Jatropha in areas that are prone to water-logging and with sodic soilswith pH above 9. Under waterlogged conditions, these plants succumb to wiltdisease. Well drained soils with slightly acidic to alkaline pH are suitablefor cultivating Jatropha.

§ Selectionof right seeds is very critical as there are no improved cultivars and theplants have long life (30+) years. Seeds with over 35% oil content arewell-developed and bold (>60 g seed weight for 100 seeds), and newlyharvested should be used for plantation establishment. Estimation of oilcontent arid germination test is very essential. Storing seeds for longerperiod decreases seed viability, and well-tested seeds with germination rate ofover 75% should be used for seedling production.

§ Seedlingsshould be grown in a nursery and should be planted in the main field when theyare 40 cm to 50 cm tall. Direct seeding can also be done under fieldconditions, but germinating seeds could be damaged by birds and rats, resultingin poor crop establishment.

§ Seedlingsin the nursery can be grown in polyethylene bags filled with well-mixed soil,sand, and farm manure in equal proportions. Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) may beadded at 1 g for every 2 kg of nursery medium. To minimise seed wastage, soakthe seeds in water overnight. The soaked seeds can be sprouted on moist filterpaper or in old clothes at room temperature. Keep the seeds moist during thesprouting process to ensure enough humidity. Sow the sprouted seeds inpolyethylene bags. Seeds soaked in cow dung slurry for 12 hours show early andenhanced germination.

§ Inoculateseedlings with suitable arbuscular mycorrhizal culture to obtain healthyseedlings.

§ Seedlingscan also be grown from cuttings, but these seedlings do not develop taprootsand are prone to damage by strong wind. Seedlings grown from seeds havewell-developed taproot and stand against strong winds.

§ Whenplanting Jatropha, dig pits at 2 m × 2 m or 3 m × 2 m depending on the soil andrainfall situation. Row to row spacing of 3 m enables machinery operations forinter row cultivation. Pits of 30 cm × 30 cm × 45 cm can be excavated; filleach pit 59 with 1 to 2 kg of farm manure and 50 g of DAP for better plantstand. Then apply 5 g to 10 g of methyl parathion (2%) dust or 5 g of phorate,lOG while filling the pit to prevent termite damage to seedlings.

§ Nursery-grownseedlings can be transplanted in the pits at the onset of the rainy season whenthe soil is wet.

§ Onceestablished, Jatropha plants generally survive well unless affected by diseasesuch as wilt or infested with stem borer. The plants drop all their leavesduring the dry season, leaving the main stem naked.

§ Theonset of rains or availability of soil moisture through irrigation initiatessprouting of new flushes of leaves and flowering buds.

§ Duringthe first year, when the plants shed their leaves, prune plants at 0.5 m to 0.6m height from the ground to promote profuse branching and in turn more floweringbuds. Annual pruning of the branches after leaf shedding needs to be done forbetter flowering and fruiting.

§ Everyyear once the rainy season sets in, fertilise each plant with 100 g urea and 38g single superphosphate.

§ Theleaf miner, Scutellera nobilis, is a serious pest in Jatropha plantationsduring flowering and fruit development stages. The leaf miner seems to besevere during the onset of the rainy season and during the active growth stageof the plants.

§ Duringfirst year of plant growth, supplemental irrigation during the dry summerseason increases the survival rate and improves plant growth.

§ Inbetween Jatropha rows, grasses or short duration hardy legumes can be grown toimprove soil fertility and to be a source of fodder for livestock.

Jatropha generally starts yielding during the thirdyear in the semi-arid tropics, but with better moisture, fruiting could startearly. Likewise, increased yields can be obtained through supplementalirrigation.

Contact details

Name and address of theorganisation:

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KALRO);

P. O. Box 57811;

Telephone: +254-20-4183301-20

Fax: +254-20- 4183344

Mobile: +254-722 206 988, +254-722 206 986, +254-733 333223, +254-733 333 224.



Name and address ofpresenter:

Dr Joel Mutisya,

P. O. Box 14733 00800,

Nairobi, Kenya;


Telephone: +254 20 4444137;

Fax: +254 20 4444137;

Mobile: +245 721 704605;


Name and address of keyscientists:

Dr Joel Mutisya and Mrs Bosibori Bett,

P. O. Box 14733-00800,

Nairobi; Email:; Telephone: +254 204444137; Fax: +254 20 4444137; Mobile: +254 714443325; Country: Kenya


Name and address of key partners:

Africa Harvest Biotechnology Foundation International,

P. O. Box 642-00621,

Nairobi, Kenya;


Telephone: +254 20 7121653;

Fax: +254 20 7124078;

Mobile: +254 724256977

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