When the former administration of president Goodluck Jonathan began the movement for the production of bio-fuel as an alternative source of energy, many farmers were clustered and encouraged into the production and farming of jatropha, a plant which seeds are used in the production of glycerol.
Glycerol is a major component for bio-fuel, especially diesel which powers standard engines. The then government had planned the establishment of a bio-fuel refinery in Kogi State.
For about 120 jatropha farmers in Katsina State, it was with mixed feelings that they veiwed the call as over the years, nothing seems to be working in that regard. They currently have over 1000 hectares of the plantation, spread across the state but without the needed attention.
The economic viability of jatropha is enormous. Aside the clean bio-fuel, the plant is used for insecticides, shampoo, soap, detergent, candle and cosmetics, among others.
It is estimated that from its farming alone, Nigeria can earn about N10 billion annually.
Last week, jatropha farmers in Katsina cried out over their neglect despite being pushed into the business by government ahead of the proposed establishment of a bio-fuel refinery in Kogi State.
The chairman of Jatropha Farmers International Merchants and Dealers Association, Sen Ahmed Sani Stores, at a press conference, said farmers were encouraged to plant jatropha for the production of seeds that would be processed by the refinery.
He said after they invested a lot in its farming, government abandoned the initiative with no support or incentives to the farmers.
‘’The movement for the production of bio-fuel as an alternative source of power was initiated during Jonathan administration but left along the line. Jatropha is a plant where we get glycerol for power and other pharmaceutical products,’’ he said.
He said it was only proper for President Muhammadu Buhari to take a look at the idea and build on it for the farmers to key into and benefit from, adding that with bio-fuel, the society will be better off.
“Jatropha farmers are ready and willing to partner with the government in order to provide alternative source of energy as is done in countries such as South Africa, India and Brazil,’’ he added.
A farmer, Alhaji Mamman Danmusa, who owns about 150 hectares of the plantation believes that having a bio-fuel refinery would go a long way in addressing fuel related challenges in the county. He said with abundant land and will from both government and farmers, it will be a good thing for the nation.
For Dr. Armayau Mohammed, jatropha farmers are ready to partner with government to provide alternative source of energy, adding that “All we need is support from the government to encourage its production.”
He revealed that jatropha can be planted with other crops and that it helps to reduce soil acidity and increases its fertility and also prevents desert encroachment adding that it can grow in almost all types of soil.
A visit to one of the plantations in Katsina, owned by Abdullahi Umar, showed several byproducts of the plant on display for prospective visitors and buyers.
Samples of detergent, soaps, candles, pomade as well as diesel extracted were also on display.