Vice Chairman, Jatropha Growers Processors and Exporters Association of Nigeria (JAGPEAN), Anambra chapter, Mr Uche Ezeala, has urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts at exploring Jathropha plant for safer energy.
Ezeala, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday, said it was a goldmine left untapped, particularly in providing alternative, environmentally friendly and safer energy.
He said besides serving as fuel for automobiles, it was safer for cooking than fossil fuel, would increase the country’s revenue generation, and create job opportunities among other things.
The vice chairman also said that besides its oil which could be used for fuel, other parts of the plant had numerous benefits.
He said the world was moving toward biofuel, adding that Jathropha was one of the products being explored.
“Where it is advantageous to Nigeria is
that, the tree can grow in any part of the country.
“From it you can explore bio fuel, cosmetic industries can use it and it can also be used in homes for cooking,“ he said.
Meanwhile, the cake, which is a byproduct can be used as manure.
Another thing that sets it apart from other sources of biofuel is that, the tree can stand harsh weather conditions, can grow virtually on any kind of soil within two to four years.
“The space between the trees can be used to plant other crops.”
He, however, expressed concern that in spite being among plants listed in the country’s biofuel policy, not much had been done to explore its potential.
Ezeala, who is the Managing Director, Fupon Oil and Gas Company, said there was need for Public Private Partnership (PPP) to create more awareness on the plant.
He also stressed the need for Nigerians, particularly farmers, to key into the project.
The managing director said as part of effort to actualise the dream in Nigeria, he was working in collaboration with a German-based company, government agencies and other stakeholders to create awareness on the product.
He said to that effect, a workshop had been organised for stakeholders from the private and public sectors, to find a way forward on available opportunities in Jathropha.
Ezeala noted that the German company had been in Jathropha business for about nine years and as such, had the mastery on how the plant worked.
“Nigeria has Jathropha policy but it has not been properly explored due to major dependence on oil.
“As a private sector person, I decided to collaborate with Jathro Solution from Germany to sensitise us on this blessing that has not been tapped into.
“The awareness is very poor, yet it is very effective.
“That is what we want to achieve because the world has moved from where we are; crude oil, to bio fuel and Nigeria, been blessed with this resources, cannot afford to be left behind.
“While we thank God that we have crude, one bitter truth is that crude will get finished one day.
“The question is, how prepared is Nigeria to explore other resources when this happens.
“I know that one of the focal points of this administration is diversification of economy and jathrofa is the way to go.”
“Besides its local use, we can export, with time, to boost the country’s revenue.It is a lucrative venture that the government should embark on.
“NNPC has a major role in the biofuel policy but the focus has been on ethanol not jathropha.
“In other climes, rural dwellers, particularly farmers, are taught how to produce soap and how to use the oil in simple lamps to reduce lighting costs.
“Nigeria should not be an exception, especially for the fact that the plant abounds here.
Jatropha curcas is a multipurpose, perennial shrub with short tap root.
Experts say the oil from the tree is a viable source of energy and that it is environmentally safe and a cost-effective renewable source of non-conventional energy.
Nigeria has a bio fuel policy called Nigerian Bio-Fuel Policy and Incentives (2007)
The policy document was approved by the Federal Executive Council on June 20th, 2007 and gazetted as a national bio-fuels policy.
The framework of the policy and the incentives is meant to create an enabling environment that is
expected to sensitise and catalyse the development of the country‘s bio-fuels industry.
Edited by Dada Ahmed