WHY JATROPHA CURCAS ?

  • Jatropha Curcas is a perennial plant, meaning that it can live for many decades and does not need to be replanted on an annual basis. This makes for economic efficiency.
  • This tree can survive in infertile and marginal soils and can be used for land reclamation, including in near desert-like conditions, while improving soil fertility. This means that Jatropha Curcas survives in soils that are not suited to food production.
  • In contrast to African oil palms, Jatropha Curcas is a social plant that does well with other species, making it suitable for agroforestry, analog forestry and permaculture cultivation, without affecting its own oil production.
  • The tree will grow in hard conditions, making it useful as a rural hedge or boundary plant.
  • Due to its size, it is easy to harvest the fruits and seeds of Jatropha Curcas.
  • Cultivation of this tree requires only low-skill labor, making it ideal for creating employment in developing countries.
  • The maintenance of Jatropha Curcas cultivations is relatively simple and is not labor intensive.
  • The employment created by Jatropha Curcas retains labor in rural areas, so that people do not migrate to the slums of big cities.
  • The primary product from Jatropha Curcas is oil ideally suited to bio-diesel production, at a fraction of the cost of diesel fuel from non-renewable sources.
  • The mulch or cake left over after oil extraction from the fruits is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, making it an excellent fertilizer.
  • The mulch or cake can be readily used as compost and substratum.
  • The mulch or cake can also be placed in bio-digestion tanks, producing a gas that can be used to generate heat or electricity.
  • Planting Jatropha Curcas can reclaim and upgrade degraded soils.
  • The first harvest of oil seed fruits can occur as early as 180 days after planting.
  • Jatropha Curcas is highly resistant to plagues, diseases, pests and fungi, eliminating the need for costly pesticides and the environmental problems they entail.
  • Harvest times in dry areas can be regulated by having a fixed irrigation schedule for the trees.
  • Because of its deep roots, irrigation need only occur once every 20 or so days in a managed setting, though that is not relevant in areas with high rainfall.
  • Six months after planting, Jatropha Curcas becomes resistant to attacks by ants and termites.
  • The tree can be co-planted by market garden operations for pest control.
  • Bio-diesel from this tree is ecologically sound and carbon neutral.
  • The cultivation of Jatropha Curcas is not known to affect any other type of cultivation.
  • This tree can be easily included in gardens, acreages and small homesteads, without large space requirements.
  • Every Jatropha Curcas tree that is planted can sequester some 8 kg (17.6 lbs.) of carbon per year. In a commercial cultivation plants may be 2 meters X 2 meters apart, for 2,500 plants per hectare (2.47 acres). This means that a typical plantation would be able to sequester 20,000 kg (44,100 lbs.) of carbon per year per hectare.
  • The oil can be used to make soaps and detergents.
  • The oil can be used as fuel in oil lamps and kerosene lanterns.
  • The oil does not smoke when burnt in oil lamps, improving the quality of life for rural dwellers.
  • The trees can serve as a windbreak.
  • The trees can be planted as hedges or fences, eliminating the need for barbed wire. Cattle won’t eat Jatropha Curcas because they know it is toxic.
  • Birds will not eat the seeds, so there are no losses before harvest.
  • Wildlife will not eat the seeds, so there are no losses before harvest.
  • Jatropha Curcas will happily co-exist with Mamona shrubs (Ricinus communis), another plant with toxic oil seeds planted in developing countries.
  • Jatropha Curcas will happily co-exist with Lead trees (Leucaena family), popular for firewood, charcoal, fodder and other uses in developing countries.
  • Jatropha Curcas will happily co-exist with Moringa trees (Moringa oleifera), important food and medicinal trees in developing countries.
  • Jatropha Curcas will happily co-exist with Sisal plants (Agave sisalana), important providers of rope, twine and other products used in developing countries.
  • Folk wisdom has it that planting this tree on the left hand side of the door protects the inhabitants against the evil eye.
  • Cash flow improves with honey sales from frequently flowering Jatropha Curcas trees.
  • Jatropha Curcas can be planted with goats present, as the goats will leave the trees alone.
  • Honey from Jatropha Curcas cultivations is believed to have medicinal properties, upping its value.
  • The albumen or seed protein of this tree contains starch which can be used to produce alcohol.
  • The fallen leaves and twigs of the Jatropha Curcas serve as useful ground cover against erosion and for retaining moisture.
  • As fallen leaves and twigs decompose they turn into rich organic material that improves soil quality.
  • The pruned branches and twigs of the Jatropha Curcas tree can be converted into cellulose.
  • Jatropha Curcas oil sprayed in apple orchards as an organic pesticide gets rid of fruit flies.
  • This tree can be planted in the vast marginal and infertile areas without affecting food production or other species of trees and plants.
  • It will grow in mixed plantations with popular Syringe trees (Melia azedarach), a mahogany family tree that is often toxic to other species.
  • Jatropha Curcas does not require the clearing of other species in order to be cultivated.
  • Jatropha Curcas cultivation does not compete with plants cultivated for food production.
  • The cost of its oil on a per gallon basis is less than the price of petroleum oil.
  • The tree grows rapidly and vigorously, and can live up to 60 years.
  • This tree can produce even larger harvests in more fertile soils.
  • Jatropha Curcas is an excellent cash flow generator for small farmers and rural land dwellers.
  • The oil from Jatropha Curcas can be used as an organic pesticide when sprayed on other cultivations.
  • The oil from Jatropha Curcas has been successfully used to combat the horn fly (Haematobia irritans), a serious livestock pest.
  • The tree can be easily planted in areas where mechanical cultivation is difficult or impossible.
  • There is no requirement for agricultural equipment in order to cultivate Jatropha Curcas, making it very affordable for socio-economic development projects.
  • The tree produces an average of 5,000 seeds per hectare (2.47 acres).
  • Average oil production by Jatropha Curcas is 1,650 liters per hectare (435 gallons).
  • This tree also produces some 3,200 kg (7,040 lbs.) per hectare of mulch or cake from the fruits and the seed residue after oil extraction.
  • The bulk oil of the Jatropha Curcas tree can render over 94% esters, a chemical compound used by industry in numerous processes.
  • This tree can be effective for erosion control, because of its deep roots, quick growth and minimal requirements.
  • Planting Jatropha Curcas helps to stop desertification of the planet in poor and marginal soil zones.
  • Jatropha Curcas can tolerate brackish water, an important planting issue in many marginal areas.
  • The oil of this tree can be used in the manufacture of stains, tints and varnishes.
  • The trees oil can be used as a purgative or contraceptive remedy, though caution is in order due to its highly toxic nature.
  • Jatropha Curcas will kill a toxic weed known as Tiririca (Cyperus rotundus), which kills other plants around it.
  • The gas produced from the anaerobic fermentation of Jatropha Curcas is a recognized source of heat.
  • The methane gas produced by the mulch or cake can be used to operate electrical generating equipment.
  • Jatropha Curcas oil transformed into bio-diesel is 80% less contaminating than petro-chemical diesel.
  • Bio-diesel made with Jatropha Curcas oil does not contain any sulphur.
  • The shells around the oil seeds can serve as animal feed, as they are not toxic.
  • The shells around the oil seeds can be burnt in small boilers or heaters as a heat source.
  • A tea made from the leaves of Jatropha Curcas has been used to fight the effects of malaria in developing countries.
  • The tree can be propagated using cuttings instead of seeds.
  • This tree produces fruits in less than a year, making for frequent harvests.
  • Jatropha Curcas does not mind being pruned.
  • The Jatropha Curcas tree flowers between 3 to 5 times per year.
  • There is a bifurcation of shoots on the tree after every flowering, so that branches stay healthy and productive.
  • Beehives can be established next to the Jatropha Curcas cultivation.
  • Every hectare of Jatropha Curcas will render 20 to 40 kg (44 to 88 lbs.) of honey per year.
  • Keeping bees in the proximity of a Jatropha Curcas cultivation increases oil production thanks to the bees? Pollination efforts.
  • Jatropha Curcas can grow along side of Pejibaye or Chantaduro Palms (Bactris gasipaes), an important food source in Latin America.
  • Jatropha Curcas does well along side of the American Oil Palm or Palmera Real (Attalea butyracea), traditionally very important as a source of roofing and construction materials in Latin America.
  • The Jussara Palm (Euterpe edulis) can grow along side of Jatropha Curcas without problems. This palm is important for its fruits and for its heart of palm, a popular food in Latin America.
  • Jatropha Curcas can grow along side of dairy operations, as milk cows will leave the tree alone.
  • Jatropha Curcas can be grown as a garden plant close to homes, where it also has an insect repellent effect.
  • Planting Jatropha Curcas requires only a small investment in seeds and fertilizer.
  • Air New Zealand flew a successful test flight with a Boeing 747 running one of its four Rolls-Royce engines on a 50/50 blend of Jatropha Curcas oil and jet fuel. Houston based Continental Airlines and Japan Air has also run successful tests, so besides bio-diesel this tree has an aviation future.
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