SARIKEI: Jatropha should be regarded as a promising commercial crop as its market is assured by Bio Oil Nasional (Bionas).
Bionas group executive chairman Mohd Safi’e M Jaffri said Bionas had started to embark aggressively on the development of jatropha bio-fuel in the country following a successful test conducted by German company, Elsbert.
With the German technology, Bionas set up a processing factory in Peninsular Malaysia, which is an assurance of a market for the crop.
“In the beginning stage, we encourage people to take part in the planting of jatropha. In Sarawak we started with a jatropha planting scheme called Projek Ekonomi Rakyat Sarawak (PERS). “
Bionas is prepared to provide up to 80 per cent subsidy on seedlings to anyone interested, and free seedlings to poor farmers in rural areas. The subsidy was limited to 10 acres per farmer.
Farmers need not worry that the crop would be destroyed by animals or insects as its fruit is poisonous (inedible). It normally fruits six months after planting with a life span of up to 50 years.
Hence the plant gives high yield but requires minimal supervision.
“Roughly 10 acres of jatropha (8000 plants) can generate a monthly income of RM3,000. Each acre can yield up to 3.6 tonnes or 300 kilogrammes per month. At the current price of RM1.05 per kilogramme, farmers with 10 acres of jatropha plant can earn RM3,000 per month.”
Jatropha could be seen as a crop that could help in the eradication of rural poverty, he pointed out.
As the demand for jatropha is expected to rise, its price would also rise, he said. This year the price is expected to reach RM1,500 per tonne.
Apart from production of bio-diesel and bio-petrol for our country, jatropha can also be used to produce bio-conola for the European market.
Farmers should not doubt Bionas’ role in developing the industry as it has the best technology in the world when it comes to supplying quality seedlings. It produces seedlings with 47 per cent oil content, he said.
Bionas has appointed 200 nurseries in the state, each nursery to get ready 50 million seedlings to be supplied to those interested. To date 121,000 farmers in the state have registered to participate in PERS involving about 500,000 acres located all over the state.
Bionas also carried out similar programmes in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand.
Meanwhile, about 60 farmers attended a briefing on the scheme by Zurina Amnan at a hotel here yesterday.
Similar briefings will be held in other places like Kuching, Selangau, Julau, Belaga Kapit and Bintulu in the next few days, he added.
Among those present were Bionas coordinator for Sarikei Division, Ling Pan Ming.
Farmers interested to participate in the programme can contact coordinator Ling Pan Ming (019-8885883).