BY:- SAIF ALI, MUHAMMAD UMAIR HASSAN, MUHAMMAD MAHRAN ASLAM, RASHID HUSSAIN AND RAMLA FIRDOS
Diminishing energy resources, unstable oil prices, global warming, climatic extremes, and other related problems have lead the world to focus on alternate, environment friendly and renewable energy sources. Among many entrants accelerated the production of bio-diesel from Jatropha curcas has added significant status. Over 40 countries of the world are assessing the potential of consuming this pure vegetal oil to manufacture diesel. Pakistan as a developing country hardly meets its energy requirement mainly from the trade in oil.
Jatropha curcas originated in Central America, distributed through tropics and subtropics is a drought-resistant, perennial plant growing well in marginal lands. The plant is best suited to sandy, well-drained soil and can also continue in very poor soils even in saline ones. It is easy to maintain, grows quickly and gives seed production up to50years. It is widely grown in Asia and Africa. Being a perennial it is largely used as a fence to protect the fields from wild animals. It is acclimatized to high degree of aridity and so doesn’t compete with food crops. This plant can yield 0.35 to 0.375 gallon of oil per tree which means 150 gallons of oil per acre. If it is watered3 to 5 liters per plant after every
15 days it has potential to double this amount. Its blackish, thin shelled and oblong seeds greatly
resemble with small castor seeds. Its seeds and kernels contain oil up to 25-30% and 50-60% respectively which can be processed to produce high quality diesel fuel that burns with smokeless flame and tested effectively as a fuel for standard diesel engine. From its oil cake, biogas containing
70 percent methane is also produced. Bio-diesel is a biodegradable compound with a degradation rate of 70- 80% and it is100% natural energy substitute to petroleum fuel. Bio-diesel is non-toxic and nature friendly fuel.
Here rises a question that how bio-diesel is environmental friendly fuel. The answer is that the Jatropha curcas is a carbon sink. Carbon dioxide gas is emitted locally but affects globally. One hundred and ninety four big and small countries are present on this globe with their fixed boundaries but shared breathing air. No matter who donates how much to the CO2 burden but all the nations suffer together. Jatropha curcas is a carbon sink, taking carbon dioxide from air and depositing it into the ground. The biodiesel produced by jatropha seeds offers a clean substitute of energy that not only aids to reduce emissions, but also is able to be used in diesel engines to power automobiles and farm pumps. In addition, by providing an unconventional crop to replace tobacco for rural farmers and reducing the burning of large quantities of firewood, which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide. By demonstrating that biofuels can be produced in a sustainable and economical way, cultivation of Jatropha hopes to start a mass effort to mitigate climate change across the entire world. The Fossil fuels are adding huge amounts of stored carbon dioxide (CO2) to the air, where it traps the Earth’s heat like a heavy blanket causing global warming. Studies show that biodiesel reduces CO2 emissions to a significant level up to 80% and sulfur dioxide emissions up to 100%. Bio diesel reduces chances of cancer up to 90%.
Biofuels create new markets for agricultural produce and excite rural development because these are generated from crop plants. They hold massive potential for farmers in the near future particularly for the two-third of the people in the developing world who arise their incomes from agriculture. Today, many of these farmers are too small to compete in the international market. They are mostly subsistence farmers who in a good year yield enough to feed their families, and in a bad year grow even poorer or starve. Biofuels have massive potential to alter this situation for the better one. At the communal level, producers that produce dedicated energy crops can grow their earnings
and their own affordable and reliable energy source. At the national level, producing more biofuels will generate technologies, new industries, jobs and markets.
Apart from biodiesel there are several other benefits of this marvelous plant. Its seeds are used in insecticide production, medicine for constipation and skin diseases. Oil is also consumed in torches, lanterns and candles because it burns with clean carbon free smoke. In machinery it has best use as lubricant. Used in soap industry. Oil cake produced from jatropha is used as organic manure. Leaves are best as massage material for strained muscles. Leaves and twigs of the plant are used as brewed tea to combat malaria. Twigs are also good to be used as miswak. Nuts are used as contraceptive agent. Bark of the plant is effective as a fish poison.
There is satisfactory potential to grow Jatropha curcas . on big scale in the country preferably without competing for land and water under food, feed and cash crops. Pakistan has arid to semi- arid climate, located between the longitude 61° to 76° east and between latitude 23° to 37° north. Total area of Pakistan is 79.61 million hectares. The Jatropha cultivation practice since 2007 till now has increased the assurance level towards acceptance of this exotic plant in the country. Parallel experiences of some local farmers growing Jatropha at their farms have also been inspiring so far. However, being exotic species protocols should be framed simultaneously to allow import of seeds of good quality, known origin and proven track record if commercialized. Jatropha cultivation is to be addressed for bio-diesel BD-5 or BD-10 blends in the country for gaining the benefits of Carbon sequestering. There are chances for new investments, jobs, environment upgrading and reclamation of ruined soils. At CARS farms best germination of 66% was documented in the seed sample simported from Thailand by PSO. However, seed germination in nursery of PSO from another lot of Thai origin was 86-99%.
Rather than using the trade in oil of other countries or fossil fuels, we must produce vegetal oil to power our economy and enhance development process. The world should look to the Tropics for biofuels rather than looking to the Middle East. We can save foreign exchange and reduce energy expenditures by producing more bio-fuels. There is only one jatropha oil extraction and processing company in Pakistan which is located at Karachi. Policies improving oil extraction, proper market and cost should be established to make the farmer confident enough to grow jatropha. Moreover
farmer should be aware of production technology and proper utilization of marginal and poor eroded lands. 500 plants per acre can be established on marginal lands not only filling our vehicles but also giving the export oil.
Saif Ali1, Muhammad Umair Hassan1, Muhammad Mahran Aslam2, Rashid Hussain3 and Ramla
Department of 1Agronomy, 2Plant Breeding and Genetics and 3Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad