Should Jatropha Really Be Called the "Blunder Crop"? Biofuels Digest Thinks So

jatropha plant photo
I've said it before and I'll continue to say it: Managed properly, and with realistic expectations of crop yields, Jatropha can produce enough oil to be an excellent feedstock for biodiesel. It also can have a number of other environmental benefits, when planted in degraded lands.

However, many of the claims about it be a "wonder crop" are wildly exaggerated. Biofuels Digest is running a good state-of-the-blunder overview of what's going wrong with Jatropha around the world.

Apart from singling out Mission New Energy and GEM Biofuels as doing Jatropha right, Biofuels Digest is catalogues a series of failures, mis-starts and unmet promises: China and Myanmar Plans Languish
Though a bit over a year ago China announced that it would be putting 13 million hectares of land under Jatropha cultivation, to date "a handful" of these plantations actually exist.

In Myanmar, 8 million acres were expected to planted in 2006. But due to the fact that the entire planting operation was mismanaged, handled more in the style of forced prison labor and oversight than a well thought out agricultural plan, the entire project has languished, with seeds going unharvested, rotting on the ground.

D1 Oils Falls Short of Goals
Closer to home for many TreeHugger readers is the saga of D1 Oils. Though the UK-based firm has succeeded in delivery small commercial quantities of Jatropha oil, the vast majority of its lofty goals have gone unmet: Its entire UK refinery operation was forced to close; its operations in Africa and India appear to be producing far lower yields than hoped for; and then there is its crisis of management, which saw its former CEO Elliot Mannis and chairman Lord Oxburgh ousted, in what Biofuels Digest has called a boardroom coup.

More examples from India, Haiti and elsewhere: The Blunder Crop
photos: D1 Oils
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