Sunday, June 08, 2008

West Bengal turns to Jatropha farming to promote bio-diesel

The West Bengal government has taken up a programme to develop cultivation of Jatropha plant to popularise it as a major source of bio-diesel. A survey is also proposed to identify the various species of Jatropha available in the state with special emphasis on districts where the growth of the plant is rampant, Saumendra Nath Bera, chairman of the Standing Committee on Science and Technology and Bio-Technology in the state assembly, said.

The project will be taken under a Micro-Mission Project of Jatropha under the Union Bio-Technology department. Describing Jatropha oil as a "potential source of fuel," Bera said the survey would enable identification of the varieties and its required soil and climatic conditions for obtaining appropriate quality planting materials with maximum oil content.

Bera, who recently undertook a study visit along with other members of the Standing Committee to Garmandaran in Hooghly district, said field trials for large-scale cultivation of Jatropha had been undertaken at Hooghly and Bankura.

"Its cultivation is proposed to be extended to other districts depending on the total area of cultivation and total seed production," he said.

Quality planting materials to be produced by macro propagation would provide quality seeds for oil extraction, Bera said adding that in order to provide good planting material, saplings were being produced from seeds and cuttings.

The Centre's Micro-Mission Project of Jatropha was aimed at large-scale propagation of the plant for identifying species with maximum oil content and large-scale propagation of quality planting materials, Bera said. Describing both the seeds and cuttings as the source of planting materials for this demonstration project at Garmandaran, he said 15 hectares of land were covered there for three years, of which five hectares were completed in 2005-06 and the rest to be covered within the current year.


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