Friday, June 12, 2009

Jatropha, implications for Asia

There is an interesting article over at EcoWorldly about jatropha, claimed by some as a wonder crop for biofuels (haven't we heard that before?). That article is about Africa, but what about its implications for Asia. Here in Thailand (and in the Philippines) the government has been pushing for its use.

Jatropha is a suggested biofuel crop which is poisonous, and hence has no value as a food crop.

Jatropha has been pushed because the proponents claim the plant can be grown in poor soils and with little water. But the EcoWorldly article contains some fascinating statements a manager of a major plant oil company. He says that Jatropha needs fertilizer and water just like any other plant and is prone to disease if not grown as an intercrop. He also made the comment that if grown on marginal lands you will get marginal yields.

So what does this imply for Asia. One is that their needs to be more independent research into using Jatropha as a biofuel, especially in terms of its effect on farmers. Secondly, all the evidence points to the use of Jatropha only as an intercrop, which is not what is being pushed in Thailand.

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