Sabah looking at planting jatropha
The Star , 5 Nov 2007
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has taken its first step towards studying the viability of cultivating the jatropha curcas plant to produce bio-diesel in a move to help eradicate rural poverty.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) has been given the task to carry out trials that, if successful, would be promoted for commercial purposes by encouraging rural people to plant such trees.
“We have asked SLDB to try it out as even the Prime Minister has asked us to study the potential of jatropha curcas,” he said after attending the SLDB Hari Raya open house here yesterday.
SLDB has planted various foreign and local species of jatropha curcas to see which variety has the potential to be grown on a commercial scale.
The non-fussy plant grows anywhere including on poor soil and rocky areas. The seeds are crushed and the oil can be processed to produce high-quality bio-diesel that can be used in diesel vehicles while the residue can be processed into biomass to power electricity plants.
“This is a pilot project. If it is viable in terms of labour and maintenance cost, we will then proceed to cover a bigger acreage,” he said, adding that SLDB will continue to play its role in helping the socio-economic development of rural people.
He said SLDB remains relevant in helping rural people open up idle land for the development through its oil palm development in rural Sabah.
“It is making money. Last year they made RM10mil profit and with Crude Palm Oil prices rising they are expecting to make RM20mil this year,” he said when asked if SLDB was still relevant in view of the success of its commercial arm, Sawit Kinabalu.
The Chief Minister stressed that SLDB had a socio-economic function to help the rural people while Sawit Kinabalu (a subsidiary of SLDB that has been put directly under the state) was a commercial entity.