Jatropha Green is a Project Rwanda initiative that involved Jatropha plantations by Team Rwanda. It covered around 15 acres of land on which Jatropha plants had been planted and grown in the year 2010. The roots of these plants were very large and some even had around seven branches growing out from their bases, something which is considered critical when the plants reach the blooming stage and start producing flowers and seeds. The number of branches of these plants is directly related to the production of their seeds. Let’s tell you about the Jatropha plant in some detail now.
Jatropha is a kind of flowering plants belonging to Euphorbiaceae spurge family. The name Jatropha is derived from words iatros (Greek for physician) and trophe (Greek for nutrition). Nettlespurge and physic nuts are some other common names of Jatropha. It consists of approximately 170 different species of trees, shrubs and succulent plants. Majority of these pieces are native to the United States of America. Jatropha plants produce separate female and male flowers. The compounds contained in Jatropha are highly toxic in nature, as is the case with all members belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family.
Goldman Sachs announced in the year 2007 that Jatropha Curcas was one among the best candidates for production of biodiesel in future. It’s resistant to both pests and drought, and its seeds consisting of around 27% to 40% of oil, constitute 34.4% of the plant. The residual Jatropha seeds’ press cake obtained post the oil extraction process can also be utilized for energy production. Nevertheless, regardless of their abundance and usage as reclamation and oil plants, not even one Jatropha species has been successfully domesticated, leading to their variable production. Furthermore, the long-term impact of Jatropha plants on the environment and the soil quality is unknown, especially when they are produced on large-scale.
Some common uses of Jatropha
Jatropha stems are commonly used for basket making purposes by the natives of Sonora in Mexico. The stems of the plant are first roasted, then split and soaked via a comprehensive process.
A commonly used red color dye is also obtained from the roots of a Jatropha variant known as Krameria Grayi.
J. Integerrima or Spicy Jatropha cultivation is carried out for ornamental purposes in the tropical regions, owing to their constantly blooming crimson flowers.
J. Podagrica or Buddha Belly plant was once commonly used for leather tanning and production of a red color dye in south-western United States and Mexico. It can also be commonly seen in the form of a house plant.
The oil obtained from Jatropha Curcas is often converted for usage in diesel engines, in the form of a biodiesel. The residual cake is utilized in the form of an animal or fish feed (after detoxification) or even as biomass feedstock for power electricity plants.