It should rank among the most intriguing mystery of the year.
You read tens of press releases claiming Jatropha to be a miracle crop. And companies go on record saying they have invested millions of dollars into this crop, by farming it on thousands of hectares.
And yet, you enquire to procure a measly hundred tonnes of the oil, and you do not get any reply from these companies. The crop is supposed to produce 2 T of oil per hectare after its fifth year, and companies that have been cultivating this crop for over five years now should be having thousands of tonnes of oil at their disposal, but show me someone who could supply a hundred tonnes of oil tomorrow, and I will be a surprised man.
D1 Oils mentioned about 6 months back that its Jatropha biodiesel price is about $850 per T. I am not able to get any more recent data from them. The Indian government had fixed a price of Rs 26 per liter for jatropha biodiesel, which is about Rs 30,000 per T. This is only about $ 600 per T. While the government has recently come out with a new purchase price (equivalent of about $800 per T), I hear from experts that no one will really be able to provide Jatropha oil at anything less than $1000 per T. Which means no one can run a viable business selling Jatropha oil at $ 800 per T, assuming someone is actually producing enough Jatropha biodiesel to sell it.
Having been operating in other vegetable oil businesses (such as castor oil), where the industry is far more organized and the prices of these are actually published everyday, it is frustrating to see a product for which there is supposed to be a huge demand but for which there is no organized price data available anywhere.