Jatropha is a new area of agriculture that cultivates crops that serve other economic purposes apart from food. One of such plants of interest is the diesel bearing plant, jatropha curcas, known in the Nigerian Igbo language as mpianya.
Jatropha is also call gold plant because of its value-chain which can potentially generate about over $5 billion dollars yearly for Nigeria from both the local and international markets.
While the Jatropha plant sounds unconventional or new to many people, it has been around for so many years, with most of its potentials which range from but are not limited to biodiesel production and the treatment of a wide spectrum of ailments related to skin, cancer, digestive, respiratory and infectious diseases, remain largely untapped.
If you’re looking to venture into a less crowded agribusiness with huge economic potential, starting a Jatropha farming business in Nigeria, Africa, or many other places around the world is great place to start.
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What Is Jatropha?
Jatropha is a genus in the Euphorbiaceae family, which produces toxic substances that protect them against animals and other pests. Jatropha seeds contain up to 43% oil and the composition of Jatropha oil is similar to that of rapeseed, and so, is thus considered high quality.
What Is Jatropha Farming About?
Jatropha farming is the process of planting and harvesting Jatrophas for personal use, commercial purposes, and international trade.
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Business Opportunities In Jatropha Farming In Nigeria & Around The World
1). Source Of Bio-Fuel:
The oil from Jatropha curcas can be processed into biodiesel for use in diesel engines.
2). Source Of Medicine
The Jatropha plant has been used traditionally worldwide for treatments of different ailments. Pharmacological studies support its uses for inflammation and wound healing.
4). Production Of Organic Fertilizer
The cake that is made after the extraction of the biodiesel can also be used in creating organic fertilizer
5). Aminal Feed:
The cake resulting from oil extraction from the Jatropha plant is a protein-rich product that can be used for fish or animal feed (if detoxified).
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Facts And Benefits Of Jatropha
- Jatropha is usually referred to as the species Jatropha Curcas
- The Jatropha plant and its seeds are non-edible and are toxic to animals and humans
- Jatrophas are used globally as living fences used to protect other agricultural products
- Jatrophas are tall trees that grow to about 6 meters in height
- Jatrophas lifespan is more than 50 years, and it can survive on marginal soils, with very little water and with low nutrient content.
- Jatropha seeds contain more than 30% of oil by weight.
- Jatropha originally originated from Mexico and Central America.
- Jatropha seeds produce biodiesel, bio-kerosene, and bio-petrol.
- Jatrophas are used for the treatment of ailments related to the skin
- Pharmacological studies support the usage of Jatrophas for inflammation and wound healing.
- Jatropha is believed to be used to help in the cure of cancer, digestive, respiratory and infectious diseases.
- Jatropha can be used to produce insecticides.
- Jatropha can also be used for the production of candles and latex.
- Jatrophas are said to contain Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, Anticoagulant, and Anticancer properties.
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Types Of Jatrophas
Their many different types of the Jatropha plant, but for this article, we would focus on Jatropha curcas which is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, that is native to the Mexico and Central America.
How To Start Jatropha Farming In Nigeria: Step By Step Guide
1). Look For A Suitable Land:
Like many plants, Jatropha curcas L. needs water to grow, although the plant can survive long periods in a drought or with heavy rain. However, Jatropha does not survive waterlogging. The soil in the terrain should either be well-drained or positioned on a slope.
Sandy soils with adequate water and nutrients are best to grow Jatrophas, but on heavier soils, cultivation of Jatropha is also possible, provided there is no waterlogging.
Jatropha can be planted from seeds, seedlings and cuttings. In all cases, planting holes should be prepared in advance.
Planting holes should have a volume of about 20-30 litres (30x30x30 cm) and filled with local soil, mixed with at least 1 kg organic manure or fermented Jatropha seedcake. Make the planting holes well in advance before planting time, in order to weather the soil mixture in the hole.
The distance between planting holes depends on the planting model. For hedges, there should be 30 cm between plants. For intercropping this should be 2×2 meter and a double row.
One kilogram of Jatropha seeds contains 1200-1400 seeds and the seeds should not be older than 6 months.
In case you collect seeds locally, only take seeds from plants with many fruits and mark those plants when you see them in the field for future use.
3). Direct Seeding:
A Jatropha plantation is best set up in a sloppy field. It also provides excellent quality planting conditions as since the Jatropha seedling is developing a taproot and should be able to withstand dry periods.
4). Direct Cutting:
Take cuttings of about 40 cm long with a diameter of up to 3 cm from heavy fruiting Jatropha bushes. Plant these cuttings 20 cm deep in the previously prepared planting holes when it’s about to rain. Next make cuttings from Jatropha branches with grey bark, because when the branches are still green, they get rot or dry.
Weeding during the first few months of growth is a critical maintenance activity since young Jatropha plants cannot compete with weeds. Pruning When Jatropha plants are knee-high, the top should be pinched in order to promote branching.
Pruning should take place at waist height and the third one at shoulder height. Pruning is needed to get as many branches as possible because flowers only grow at the top of a branch. Pruning should always take place just before the start of a rainy season and should be done with scissors or a sharp knife.
After the Jatropha plants have produce clusters of pink or red, star-shaped flowers in spring, rounded, green seedpods develop after the flowers drop. The seedpods then turn a yellowish red to brown when the seeds ripen and becomes ready for harvest.
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Challenges Of Jatropha Farming In Nigeria
Here are some challenges that can affect starting jatropha farming in Nigeria, Africa, or many other places around the world:
- Pest and diseases
- Lack of government support
- Lack of funding for large scale production
- Lack of a highly favourable market
- Lack of highly equipped storage facilities
- Lack of efficient production mechanisms
- Not popularly known
- Absence of a vast ready market
- Poor funding of research activities
- Bush burning
- Lack of capital for large scale production
- Lack of easy access to the international market
- Instability of the international market price
- Lack of adequate widespread knowledge on how to produce high-quality products
- Lack of funds to import international standard processing machinery
- Thieves and criminals
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To Sum It Up
The jatropha farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your own ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a farming business to venture into, the jatropha farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.
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What are your thoughts on how to start a Jatropha Farming business in Nigeria or Africa? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Hello Mr Stan, this was a great read, I found this very detailed and insightful. I’ve been looking for an entry into jatropha but faced a few bottlenecks, I would love to connect with you.
Thank you for reading, Emmanuel.
You can send me an email to [email protected]
Do have a great time.
To start a lucrative jatropha farming business in Nigeria, you should take a few key steps.
First, it is essential to select and prepare a plot of land for planting carefully. This land should be free from weeds or other plant life that could compete with jatropha plants.
In addition, the soil should be fertile and have good drainage to provide optimal growing conditions.
Once the land is prepared, you can plant jatropha seeds either by hand or with the aid of specialized seed planting equipment.
Once jatropha plants have begun to grow, it is essential to ensure that they receive adequate care and attention.
This includes regular watering and weeding and keeping an eye out for potential pest infestations.
Additionally, jatropha crops will need occasional pruning to maintain healthy growth and prevent overcrowding.
When jatropha plants begin to bear fruit after one or two years, it is crucial to harvest them at the optimum time for peak yields.
This should be done at least once per year for best results, although some farmers may harvest their jatropha crops more than once, depending on local growing conditions.
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