Itezhi tezhi District Commissioner, Roy Nang’alelwa, has urged small scale farmers in the district to invest in growing jatropha plant to empower themselves economically.
Mr Nang’alelwa made the appeal during a Jatropha Field Day titled “Plant once and harvest for 45 years”, organised by Papamel Limited of Lusaka held yesterday at Mulilabanyama area in Chief Kaingu’s area.
The DC said jatropha has the ability to produce bio-fuel which can act as supplement to petroleum, adding that a 10Kg of jatropha could be sold at K100 which is a very good price.
Mr Nang’alelwa, who has also planted the crop at his farm, said the continuous increase in the price of crude oil had become a major problem in Zambia as well as other developing countries.
He observed that the development had led to the quest for alternative source of energy such as bio diesel, adding that the jatropha plant was a preferred choice in the production of bio diesel.
Mr Nag’alelwa described biodiesel as a type of bio-fuel derived from vegetable oil seed that could run a diesel engine in any vehicle, including in construction equipment and could be used in home-heating equipment.
“The plant can grow in any type of soil, anywhere whether sandy, gravelly and saline soil and continues to grow for 45 years, making it a long-term investment,” Mr Nang’alelwa said.
The DC said investment in jatropha growing among farmers in rural areas can be a quick solution to poverty eradication and employment creation which is a major priority for the current administration.
And Thomas Muswerakwenda, a representative of Papamel Company Limited, who co-ordinates jatropha growing in Mumbwa and Itezhi tezhi districts, told the farmers that attended the field day that the plant was a good feed-stock for the production of bio diesel as an alternative source of fuel.
Mr Muswerakwenda said jatropha could be harvested three times in a year and could do well on any type of soil and even without fertilizer.
He said since the tree survives for more than 45 years, different generations benefit from trees and its products.
“Jatropha tree starts to produce fruits after 24 months and there are nine elements or products that it can produce, including bio fuel, ant-feeze, glycerine, candle making, can be used as organic fertilizer, production of matches and soaps.
So far, he noted, that the government has continued to give recognition to the production of jatropha as a cash crop and that the National Scientific Research Centre and his company produce the seeds.