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I have mentioned in an earlier blog post that you will find it hard to get an authentic quote for Jatropha oil in India.

An equally interesting puzzle is the price of the seed. The seeds of the crop have been seeing a see-saw in its prices. You hear prices right from Rs 5 per Kg to Rs 20 per Kg. It is almost like watching random walk in reality while getting quotes from different seed suppliers – how they calculate the prices of the seeds is anybody’s guess.

Recently, there was a Japanese company that had wanted us to assist them in procuring Jatropha seeds from India. I had obtained quotes from a number of “prominent” seed suppliers. And as usual, I got prices from Rs 7-Rs 20 per Kg. I had talked to a Jatropha expert with whom we work closely and he convinced me that a fair price would be about Rs 10 per Kg. I then shortlisted the vendors based on this benchmark and conveyed these to the Japanese buyer. A few days later, the buyer came back and mentioned that unless the price was below $ 100 per T (less than Rs 5 per Kh), it will not be possible for him to go ahead with the project. The reason: There were some contacts of his in the UK who had promised him that it was possible to get large quantities of Jatropha seeds from Africa at less than $ 100 per T.

Now, I am not sure who his contacts in the UK are, and whether they are in touch with legitimate suppliers of seeds. I only told him that prices below Rs 10 per Kg will not be sustainable for the seed producers, especially given the lower-than-expected yields that the crop was giving world over. I am not sure what the decision of my Japanese contact would be, but this anecdote pretty much describes the Jatropha price situation existing in India and world over. In one word, chaos!