I have been studying various non-edible oil sources for my research on Biofuels and particularly, Biodiesel. I have interviewed a few experts in the field who have dealt with Jatropha, Pongamia and other oil sources. Here are the excerpts:
Indian indigenous oilseed trees such as Neem, Mahua, Karanja, Jatropha, Simarouba are the best sources for Biodiesel. Among them, Jatropha was highlighted as the best tree which is ideal for commercial cultivation. After our former president Dr Abdul Kalam expressed his support for biofuels in 2004-05, there was frenzy in the market to plant Jatropha in a mass scale and extract oil from its oil seeds. However, by around 2009-10, the reality dawned on Jatropha cultivators that this plant is not a miracle! Here is a list of mistakes committed during those crazy days –
• Going for mass cultivation without understanding yield, pests and adoptability of a foreign species was the first mistake.
• Not choosing Indian species like Mahua, Karanja, etc was the second mistake. Jatropha was claimed to produce good yield within 3-4 years which can only happen when it is grown in irrigated land with adequate fertilisers. Jatropha requires nearly as much water per unit of energy as sugarcane or maize. - business-standard.com/articl … 073_1.html
• Labour is the biggest issue faced in all types of farming. This was never realised by Jatropha cultivators until they began picking the seeds.
• Biodiesel market price has to be much below petro-diesel to become viable. Current global average market price for crude Jatropha oil stands at $1,068 per metric ton, which translates to Rs.64 per kg of oil. No buyers will buy it at that price!
• In contrast, NGOs working in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka are helping landless labourers to pick seeds of Mahua and Pongamia, which still works out to be economical. A litre of crude oil extracted from Pongamia or Mahua works to be around Rs.48-52 per kg.
• So if Jatropha cultivators can produce at that price, there is a market for it. That means growing the plant on barren land without any irrigation or manure. Check my article - thealternative.in/environment/bi … ble-fuels/
I hope this answers your question