The Federal Government is to focus more on the development of jatropha production as part of efforts to diversify the nation’s economy, the Director-General, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Dr. Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, has said.
The DG, who spoke at the distribution of improved seeds to the jatropha farmers for the 2018 farming season, said the council would champion the campaign in accordance with one of its programmes titled ‘Boosting the Supply of Agricultural Raw Materials for Industrial Use,’ which was initiated as far back as 1991.
Daily Trust reports that jatropha curcas is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, that is being explored as a multi-dimensional prospective plant. It has social, agricultural, environmental, industrial, pharmaceutical and energy production potentials. Jatropha seed cake, compost from debris and slurry from biogas plant are good sources of soil nutrition and protein from seed cake can be utilized as animal feed.
Speaking at the event, Dr. H.D Ibrahim, who was represented by Dr. G.G Awolehin, noted that it was imperative that the issue of sustainable production of jatropha be brought into the mainstream of economic development aspirations in the country, considering its relevance in the production of biodiesel and biofuel.
According to him, in order to meet the projected national demand for feedstock for fuel blending, it was estimated that jatropha should be cultivated on about 100,000 – 200,000 hectares of land across the country.
“And as part of the council’s efforts to promote the development of jatropha in Nigeria, about two tonnes of jatropha seeds were distributed to farmers in 2012, as well as collaboration with the National Centre for Agriculture Mechanization (NCAM) to fabricate jatropha oil press and cooking stove, among others,’’ he added.
While assuring that the council would continue to sensitize and motivate other key stakeholders to promote investment in jatropha value-chain development to meet the projected national demand of biodiesel and biofuel, the DG urged farmers to adopt best practices that can give them the best yields from the seedlings.
Responding, the National President, Jathropha Growers, Processors and Exporters Association of Nigeria (JAGPEAN), retired Maj-Gen. J. A. Omosebi, while commending RMRDC for its assistance, said jatropha farmers have commenced its cultivation on about 100,000 hectares of land across the country and they are targeting to expand the crop production to 250,000 hectares of land by 2020.
The chairman of the board of the association, Dr. Kabiru Abdullahi, who regretted that the potentials of the jatropha plant were yet to be tapped in the country, urged RMRDC to assist in creating awareness on its strategic importance, especially in the rural communities so as to encourage the involvement of more farmers and stakeholders in the value-chain development of the plant.