To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

May 31, 2008

D1 Oils criticised for being naive about jatropha's biofuel potential

Alternative fuels company D1 Oils has been criticised for expecting too much too soon from its jatropha biofuel crop.

The criticism comes less than a week after the company announced it was closing its biodiesel plants in Middlesbrough (UK), which employs 40 people and Merseyside, where 47 jobs will go.

D1 is now devoting its energies to growing jatropha, which it had been processing in its refineries. It plans to boost cultivation to 2.5 million acres from the current 500,000 acres growing in India and Africa. It is the exclusive supplier of jatropha to its joint venture with oil company BP, called D1-BP Fuel Crops Ltd.

But the value of jatropha, which produces seeds that are used to extract vegetable oil, is coming under question. Raymond Jongschaap, from the plant sciences group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said: “The major concern is that people have too high expectations of the crop.”

He said studies had looked at the yields from 20 to 30-year-old trees, which were not comparable to young, newly planted ones. Young jatropha trees need time to mature before they can produce high yields. “There is an extrapolation that does not work for jatropha. It is not a good measurement, only guesses and estimates,” he said. “I really think there is a future for jatropha but we have to realise it is still a wild species.”

He also criticised D1’s plans to cultivate jatropha in areas with poor quality soil: “The plant will grow in marginal soils. It survives under those circumstances but it does not produce under those circumstances.”

However, D1 said the company had made it very clear it was investing heavily in plant science.

A spokesman said: “We a have always been very conservative about the yields. I don’t believe D1 has ever said jatropha is a miracle crop. We have always said it requires care, maintenance and the application of good science. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe it would work.”

He also countered criticism jatropha was a poisonous weed: “Jatropha is not toxic, neither is it a weed. It is not invasive. Jatropha will only spread with the intervention of man.”

D1, which was founded by North East entrepreneur Karl Watkin, who retains a 3% stake in the business, announced at last week’s AGM that group finance director Chris Tawney was leaving.

The AIM-listed business made a loss of £46.1m in the year to December and last month raised £14.9m through a share issue to provide funds to support the company into next year.

NE Business

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP