Tanzania: Jatropha now becomes national project

Tanzania: Jatropha now becomes national project
The Arusha Times, Issue 00414, April 8 - 14, 2006 issn 0856 - 9135

Jatropha, formerly popular only as a graveyard fencing plant, has just spawned a major national project, which was officially launched in Arusha in the course of this week. The new, Jatropha Products Tanzania Limited (JPTL) will henceforth work as a non profit organization, whose main mission is to ensure that the country gets alternative sources of fuel.

For the last six years, the Njiro-based, Technology Research and Disseminating Company of 'KAKUTE' has been researching and promoting Jatropha Curcas whose inedible fruits produce oil that has multipurpose benefits including that of herbal soap making, domestic fuel and bio-gas. There is also the possibility that the 'wonder plant' could be used to make pesticides.

For the first time since the wonders of Jatropha came to light, Arusha hosted the maiden National Jatropha Conference this week. This was a two day session meeting, that attracted about 100 stakeholders from all over the country, with others coming from Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and parts of West Africa. The event was organized by the Kampuni ya Kuendeleza Teknolojia (KAKUTE) of Arusha and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The managing director of KAKUTE, Livinus Manyanga stated during the conference that, the initial local project known as the Alternative Resources for Income (ARI) began in Monduli district in 2000, involving , mostly women groups and rural producers in planting, gathering, buying and selling Jatropha seeds, expelling oil and making herbal soaps for village and regional markets.

Later the project was introduced in Arumeru district, then in parts of Kilimanjaro region. Within the five year period of 2000 and 2005, more than 40 tonnes of Jatropha oil had reportedly been extracted manually using only the appropriate methods of 'Ram pressing.' The Ram presses are locally devised machines, being produced by both KAKUTE and Approtech.

The newly launched Jatropha Products Tanzania Limited (JPTL)now aims at taking the lead in the Jatropha movement throughout Tanzania, serving as clearing house for consultation, research and development of Jatropha products. JPTL is built on the four year old foundation in which efforts to exploit the graveyard plant's values as an alternative source of fuel energy.

The move couldn't be more timely, it comes just when Tanzania and her other East African partners namely Kenya and Uganda, were facing acute power problems. The three countries depend on hydroelectric energy for electricity and prices of petroleum in the three EA members states keep getting higher.

Led by the KAKUTE board chairman John Mlay, the Jatropha national conference delegates visited various Jatropha projects in Arusha, attended a live demonstration at Usa river, in Arumeru, before proceeding to visit one of the Kilimanjaro projects at the Moshi based, Kikuletwa farm. Recently also, another company known as Dilligent Tanzania initiated a Jatropha project at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

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