[Assam] Jatropha plantation (The Assam Tribune,28.05.2007)

Buljit Buragohain buluassam at yahoo.co.in
Mon May 28 00:41:23 PDT 2007

  Jatropha plantation
— In the wake of tremendous rise in vehicular traffic on one hand and growing crisis of automobile fuels, on the other, two aspects need serious consideration at the moment – large-scale conversion of petrol-driven engines into diesel-driven engines of motor vehicles and wide-spread generation of bio-diesel through jatropha plantation. It may be recalled that in the three-day national workshop on bio-diesel in North-East at Guwahati in October, 2006, the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had urged upon large-scale cultivation jatropha plant, the most promising input for bio-diesel generation, which could be a highly promising and economical alternative to costly traditional fossil fuel. The increasing thrust on bio-diesel would not only transform the country’s energy scenario, but would also offer large-scale employment in rural areas. Though the idea is not new, the plantation of jatropha and production of diesel oil from its seeds is yet to be popularised in the
 country. What is urgently necessary at this stage is to put in efforts for research and development on a large-scale at the Centre as well as in States in the areas of production and processing. There will certainly be problems initially at the stages of plantation, harvesting and manufacturing with respect to organisation, management and financing. This will certainly require a large-scale initiative from the private sector, Self-Help Groups, institutional finance apart from the lead role of government. Jatropha is not only a fast-growing plant but is also immune to harsh weather conditions like drought and it grows rapidly even in poor soil and waste land that is unfit for increased income to a large number of poor farmers, the jatropha plantation will provide eco-friendly and smoke-free platform that the by-products from plant processing and the wastes out of it could also be a very good organic fertilizer and insecticide for raising productivity of different farm
 crops. In India, the quantum of cultivable waste land and barren land presently accounts for 60 million hectares, and it has the potentiality of reaching a peak production level of as much as 120 million tonnes of diesel oil as against the annual demand of 49 million tonnes at the moment and is expected to rise to around 100 million tonnes by 2025-30 period. The north-eastern region provides an ideal location for jatropha plantation with waste land, unused jhum land and river banks comprising more than 1.7 million hectares. The region has the potentiality of producing around 3.4 million tonnes of diesel from jatropha seeds when properly developed and this will more than meet the requirement. Apart from organic manure, jatropha leaves would be an excellent feed for silk worm that could help in producing tussor silk at the same time.


 (The Assam Tribune,28.05.2007)
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