It’s becoming fairly clear to many that jatropha is not the magical biofuel crop that it was hyped to be. To be fair to the crop, it does have potential. Work done by my team shows that realistically, it can give about 5-7 T of seeds (about 2 T of oil & biodiesel) under suitable conditions, beyond the fifth year. It can grow on marginal lands and it quite likely is not as expensive to grow and maintain as are many other competing biofuel crops such as palm or corn. But even given its positives, should the Indian government be a bit more careful before going gaga over jatropha and allocating millions of hectares of lands for it?
This article certainly thinks “definitely yes”. A detailed and thought provoking article, it also shows how socially-minded folks such as Vandana Shiva are acutely concerned about the jatropha wave and are keen that the government go-slow in this. This is to ensure that we understand better about the crop and its effects on soil, as much as making sure that we understand the villagers’ and village councils’ perspectives before grabbing their land. A must-read article for all those who wish to be updated on the jatropha status in India.