Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wishing you a Jatropha year ahead.....

For those who came and took a peek at this blog while I was away at, I thank you for visiting. I will come back to blog on this beloved blogsite (my firstborn so to speak) more often but am finding out that blogging takes quite a bit of time, if you intend to do a credible job that is. As tomorrow is Christmas, I thought a nice pix of the Jatropha with its red and green festive hues would be appropriate. So with this story on the Jatropha plant and its glorius future in biodiesel, I wish you happy holidays and a wonderful year ahead for 2008. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

There is so much happening in the world of biotechnology today that I often find myself itching to blog about some of the interesting discoveries that I have read about or viewed on TV. You better believe it, biotechnology is here to stay. We got a lot of catching up to do and Malaysia is just beginning to make our impact in this sector. I was watching an interesting programme on RTM1 a few weeks ago about plans for Malaysia to ramp up the biodiesel sector with the launch of a pilot project in Kota Marudu in Sabah to cultivate the jatropha plant. An oilseed touted as a viable non-food alternative to first generation biodiesel feedstocks here, it seems jatropha holds potential as an alternative crop that contributes to the production of biodiesel in Malaysia on a commercial scale, particularly for small landholders. Tasked with this mammoth undertaking, Biogreen Energy Sdn Bhd here aims to become a global, socially responsible, sustainable, main producer and supplier of Jatropha Biofuel used in the production of biodiesel.
The plant referred to as "Jarak Pagar" in Bahasa Malaysia has even been hailed as a "Wonder Shrub" and even has a news network here, is of great interest to the Green Car Congress here, the biofuel marketplace here, an upcoming conference JatrophaWorld 2008 here and a Wikipedia spot here. Indian agribusinessman Gurumurti Natarajan here says "Jatropha curcas produces oil-bearing seeds within six months of planting and can last over 30 years without replacement. Its seeds contain 30 per cent or more oil, which can be easily expelled and extracted. The crude oil lends itself to transesterification and the resulting product is blendable with petroleum diesel in all proportions to produce biodiesel. Besides reducing the consumption of fossil diesel and the resultant savings on its import, the use of biodiesel also ensures significant reduction of pollution from the burnt exhaust fumes from traditional diesel engines." The Indian author laments the lack of a clear governmental policy in promoting jatropha and biodiesel, no major biodiesel processing units, incentives for farmers to take up jatropha cultivation through buy-back guarantees by the oil processors and other government subsidies.
I am presuming these concerns have been addressed by Malaysia as the industry seems to be going full speed ahead as this once ornamental plant that exudes a poisonous sap as the Times Online report here says "The jatropha bush seems an unlikely prize in the hunt for alternative energy, being an ugly, fast-growing and poisonous weed. Hitherto, its use to humanity has principally been as a remedy for constipation. Very soon, however, it may be powering your car. Almost overnight, the unloved Jatropha curcushas become an agricultural and economic celebrity, with the discovery that it may be the ideal biofuel crop, an alternative to fossil fuels for a world dangerously dependent on oil supplies and deeply alarmed by the effects of global warming". It must be good because the African continent here as well as India here, Indonesia here and China here are already racing ahead with this wonder crop. Naturally there are concerns about deforestation here and what the public should know here. With fossil fuels in short supply and prices going higher and higher, from now on I am looking at this Jatropha plant from a whole new perspective when I see it growing wild on the roadside or in someone's garden. (Source of pix here)


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