Need, Potential and Perspectives of Jatropha Plantations

The concept of substituting biodiesel produced from plantations on eroded soils for conventional diesel fuel has gained wide-spread attention in India. In recent months, the Indian central Government as well as some state governments have expressed their support for bringing marginal lands, which cannot be used for food production, under cultivation for this purpose.
Jatropha curcas is a well established plant in India. It produces oil-rich seeds, is known to thrive on eroded lands, and to require only limited amounts of water, nutrients and capital inputs. This plant offers the option both to cultivate wastelands and to produce vegetable oil suitable for conversion to biodiesel. More versatile than hydrogen and new propulsion systems such as fuel cell technology, biodiesel can be used in today`s vehicle fleets worldwide and may also offer a viable path to sustainable transportation, i.e., lower greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced mobility, even in remote areas. Mitigation of global warming and the creation of new regional employment opportunities can be important cornerstones of any forward looking transportation system for emerging economies.

George Francis, Raphael Edinger, and Klaus Becker, A concept for simultaneous wasteland reclamation, fuel production, and socio-economic development in degraded areas in India. Need, potential and perspectives of Jatropha plantations. Natural Resources Forum 29 (2005), p. 12-24.