Potential of tree borne oil seeds opens new vistas in petro-crops

Tuesday February 17, 2009,

3 min Read

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai

India is deficit of non-edible oil and imports a large quantity of oil seeds to meet the demand. The need for increasing import and higher prices of petroleum has created the need to explore new avenues for tapping Tree Borne Oil Seeds (TBOS) in India in sizeable quantities. Jatropha is worth mentioning in this context.

The Planning Commission has already outlined a programme with the Union Government to launch nation-wide Jatropha plantation with a view to generate environment friendly bio-fuels to tap non-conventional sources of energy. The programme is currently being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Ministry of Rural Development with the assistance of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in collaboration with the Indian Railways.

According to a report from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on the potential of Tree Borne Oil Seeds (TBOS) in India, the concept of Biodiesel and its ongoing application has opened a new era of petro-crops or bio-fuel on one hand and growing demand of indigenous cosmetic and paint industry on the other.

Moreover, the byproducts like glycerine and other pharmaceutical products during the oil refining process and oil cakes make this sector attractive from ecological, employment and economic point of view as well.

It is also pertinent to mention that the working group report of Planning Commission, GOI has recommended nearly 23 Lakh Hectares Jatropha plantations to achieve five per cent replacement of petro-diesel, by bio-diesel in the coming years.

The oil import bill of India, which was Rs 84, 000 crores in the year 2001-02, is likely to increase at the rate of 6 to 7 per cent annually because of the total requirement of Petroleum in India, 72 per cent is imported. The Planning Commission report have come out with a study, which reveals that import of crude oil is expected to go up from 85 million metric tones per annum to 147 million metric tones per annum correspondingly increasing the import bill from USD 13.3 billion to USD 15.7 billion in the coming years. Therefore the increasing prices of petrol and diesel has necessitated the use of tree borne non-edible oil such as Jatropha as an alternative to fuel and as an additive.

The Planning Commission has estimated that 10 per cent replacement of petroleum fuel by bio-fuel would also help save Rs 8, 400 crores annually in foreign exchange.

Planning Commission has identified 200 districts in 17 potential states as suitable for Jatropha plantation on the basis of availability of wasteland, rural poverty ratio, below poverty line census and agro climatic conditions suitable for Jatropha plantation.

The potential of Jatropha can be gauged from the fact that it can be grown in arid and semi-arid lands without little or no care. It is ideally suited for drought prone and dry areas. Jatropha has a strong anti-erosion quality which helps in protecting the soil cover.

Jatropha has a life span of 40 years and starts producing seeds in two years time. Jastropha is found across the country and finds its use in tanning products, dyes, bio fertilizer, soaps, waxes, pest control products and has great medicinal properties.

With a wide ranging experience in reporting and writing in Healthcare, Infrastructure, Business, Civic Issues and Entertainment of over seven years with prestigious media groups like The Indian Express, The Asian Age, Infomedia India 18 and Zee Group, Shardul Nautiyal makes it sure that the story is relevant and reader-friendly. Shardul loves to add his dash of spice and fresh ideas in the reports with the motive of leaving an indelible impression in the reader's mind.

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