Jatropha Seeds

Jatropha Seeds


As the world continues to seek for a healthier and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel, biodiesel is now thought to be the perfect replacement, especially for transportation purposes.  Surprisingly though, one plant might after all, be the solution for what the whole world craves for. That plant is no other than the Jatropha plant which produces seeds that have oil content of almost 50%. The Jatropha seed is gaining increasing popularity in all corners of the globe due to its high oil content which can be used as alternative to petroleum fossil fuel. It is no surprise that countries like Brazil, Philippines and India had already begun to use the seeds in making biodiesel fuel.  Other countries have started various projects that will ensure its use in that area. Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Indonesia are among the biggest producers of jatropha seeds. Despite being a major producer, India still remains the highest importer of jatropha seeds in the world with around 600 000 metric tons imported in 2008.


    Fresh Jatropha pods                          Jatropha seeds


There are more than 170 varieties of jatropha seeds and 80% of these numbers are hybrid varieties. A hybrid jatropha could give up to 3 harvest compared to 2 harvest by natural species. Jatropha can be propagated either by seeds or cuttings. However, trees that are propagated from cuttings do not stay long and are equally less resistant to drought than those propagated from cuttings. Also, jatropha seeds propagated by cuttings produce surface roots rather than true taproots.  The Plants thrive well in a temperature range of 20 – 400C, but in some cases, they perform equally well in temperatures of up to 500C. Ideal rainfall for this plant should be around 1000 – 1500mm per year and soil PH of 6 – 9 with properly drained sandy loam is preferred. Although it enjoys good drainage, castor plant might not survive if the land does not have water pooling for more than 4 days. The seeds are preferably planted in the nursery and later transferred to the field when the plants are about 35 – 40cm tall. During the dry season, the plant usually sheds its leaves, allowing fresh leaves to grow to indicate production period.

Jatropha has quite a number of uses in today’s world. Each part of the plant it put to one use or the other, even the by product (the seed cake) is used as an organic fertilizer. Some parts of the jatropha are used as medicine and the seed can as well serve as medicine to prevent constipation. To add to that, the seed oil is a major raw material in making insecticides, but the most important use of this seed is in the production of biodiesel. The jatropha oil is used as lubricant in machinery and in soap making. The leave of the plant is equally useful in treating strained muscles. In Africa, the leaves are used as brewed tea to fight against malaria while the twigs are taken as chewing stick to clean the teeth.

The international market for jatropha seeds is very viable with increasing demands for its use as biodiesel.  Generally, jatropha seeds intended for international market should be properly cleaned, free from pest and diseases with maximum broken and damaged seeds of 1%, and properly packed in jute bags or high density poly ethylene bags.


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