Promoting Jatropha Plantation

Demand for vegetable oils as a source of biodiesel has increased recently due to a number of factors, including increased prices of petroleum, the desire to reduce CO2 emissions, and fuel security.

Jatropha will be one of the vast sources of biofuel and a key in reducing our dependence on fossil fuel and to bring significant environmental benefits. It can replace jet fuel and diesel without interfering with food crops and deforestation as a source of fuel. It is a plant that lives for a long time producing oil seeds, while it also absorbs lots of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Local production of bio fuel energy is projected to have a broad range of positive economic, social and environmental implications. Promoting Jatropha is significant since it upgrades eroded and deforested land, creates employment opportunity in rural farming and bio fuel production.

The other major benefit of promoting annual crops such as Jatropha and other oilseeds are their ability to store more carbon, maintain soil quality, and manage water and nutrients more conservatively since they have deeper root systems. Jatropha can be planted on marginal soils and recover the fertility of the soil.

Crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa are projected to fall by 20 percent under global warming. As yields fall and demand rises, Africa will become more dependent on expensive food imports. Already the poor in sub-Saharan Africa spend 60 to 80 percent of their total income on food. Famine due to climate change may displace more than 250 million people worldwide by 2050 (

Jatropha’s benefits to developing countries like Ethiopia includes: - degraded lands recovery and aforestation; provide huge opportunities from new sustainable and renewable land resources; creating employment opportunities for its plantation and collection and oil extraction.

Ethiopia on average imports about 1 billion liters petrol diesel annually spending 86 % of its foreign earning per annum. (Ministry of Mining and Energy). Had 1.25 million farmers were engaged in Jatopha and other vegetable oilseeds for biodiesel production program the import of 1 billion liters petrol diesel would have been substituted with biodiesel.

With this perception, Emmanuel Development Association has been engaged in promoting sustainable farming for biodiesel production since 2010 in Kewot District in Northern Ethiopia. Thirty Six percent of Kewot District is ragged, hilly and mountainous, soil erosion caused by water runoff and land slide is very acute. Furthermore, the ever escalating price of fossil fuel has affected negatively the farmers’ livelihood. The district has 17,916 hectare of marginalized land appropriate for Jatropha or for other bio fuel plants.

The pilot project and field experiences in Kewot District by Emmanuel Development Association objective is to contribute the national effort in ensuring environmental sustainability and bio fuel production program by empowering 2,000 rural women, girls and youth empowerment by the year 2015.