Discussion on R&D needs in Jatropha and need or possibility for an EU role.
Discussion on R&D needs in Jatropha and need or possibility for an EU role. First Hans-Joerg.Lutzeyer lined out the reasons why the EU might be interested to link or to support R&D activities in Jatropha. Next, a round was made in which participants could comment. The participants were requested to mention their views on networking and R&D topics. Diego Breviarion noted that from preliminary R&D, it is found that the genetic variation of Jatropha is not so wide, however the phenotypes are quite different in character. He suggested that gene expression studies are needed. Since this phenomena is unusual, the EU can be challenged to work on this. A number of participants noted that not only the detoxification of Jatropha cake is an important issue to work on, but also to optimize the use of other products (including the toxic substances). According to the Thomas Zeigler Jatropha could be made an industrial crop, if politicians are interested “to do so”. Such R&D to improve yield levels and tackle the toxicity issue would require a long term effort (12 to 15 years). Ayay Kohli presented his University of Newcastle and its associated organizations to be implementing R&D, and further expand R&D in the breeding aspects, agronomy of the plant, and LCA. The Jatropha flowering system is a major hurdle to be understood. The university already has cooperation with other EU institutes, as well as with Indian partners. One of the participants suggested that Jatropha R&D could also be taken on as a model for an R&D approach of a wild plant brought to a commercial crop. Since Jatropha is basically a wild crop, it could be conceived as an example for other wild but promising crops not studied and improved yet. The model should thus include the high tech approaches that are available today, the cooperation and networking between R&D institutes, etc.. Axel Kraft noted that a network in Jatropha exists already, and can be furthered. What is needed to find out is whether there is a viable market, what is on the ground really. There is a lot of talk but acreages are not big and the oil is not easy to get. In R&D there are three regions Latin America, Asia (R&D in India and China) and Africa. It seems that in Africa R&D is not so much developed. Dieter Janssen, WIP made a clear remark on the R&D needs for Africa. He focused on the special R&D needs for Africa. Dana Bacovky indicated that there are clear differences in R&D needs, if you compare Jatropha for small scale farming and use with large scale biofuels production. It might be leading to different R&D agendas. Hasan Girii stressed the needs for biofuels in Africa: the climate and soil conditions favor Jatropha to be produced in Africa (some are planning to grow it in the South of Italy or Spain or Portugal). There is a need for African R&D on the plant to make it a vital crop for Africa, as this region does not have easy access to fossil fuels. Gerassimos Apostolatus of the EU said a lot of information is available. He recommended to look at R&D centres in Brazil (EPAMIG, EMBRAPA) India, Nigeria and Kenya and China. USAID (University of Florida) has already produced many publications on the topic. So possibly the focus might be more on systematization of R&D and demonstration of the technology. Hans-Jeorg Lutzeyer rounded up the first round by explaining how R&D on Jatropha would fit the 2 policy objectives of the EU: 1. Since the EU objectives for biofuels are quite ambitious it is essential to make sure a broad range of technologies and biofuel sources are available to minimize competition between food and fuel and to avoid price peaks for certain fuel sources. Jatropha is obviously an under researched plant, it has both a potential as biofuel source and a plant to foster development of marginal rural areas to alleviate poverty; 2. The Millennium Development Goals are clearly aiming at poverty reduction, employment generation, etc.. Jatropha has a potential as a small farmers crop that can be used directly in the community as well as on a national or export scale. This potential requires also R&D to optimize the crop in the local farming systems and have sustainable yield. On the first notion some comment was made that it is doubtful if we in the EU will be able to get the biofuels from Asia or Latin America, as Asia has its own ambitious targets and Brazil is already aiming to deliver to the USA, and Japan. If the EU wants to get its share it might be wise to bring in investments, and technology. Africa is the likely continent to look for biofuels, but care should be taken as sustainability might be foregone by investors, aiming to reduce costs. On the second objective it was found that this might require other research priorities (agronomic practices using e.g. intercropping, low input, local seed selection, local oil pressing technology, small scale uses, in genetics, breeding of more resistant plants, using less water, fixing of nitrogen, etc..) Large scale export oriented production would require reducing labor input in harvesting, mechanization of pruning, weeding, in genetics, aiming at shortening crop periods, higher oil contents, consistent yields, and propagation systems. Aya gave an example of India where the crop was used as a fertilizer to restore soil fertility enabling small farmers, normally engaged as labor to big farmers, to grow crops on their own land. The period here was not first year yield, but improvement over the 5 to 10 years. It was further repeated that Jatropha is to be seen as a raw material producing crop and that energy is only one of its applications (high volume market, but low price). Again it was said that only if politicians aim at strategic research investment into Jatropha, it can become a potential commercial crop after some 10 to 15 years. Cards with R&D priorities The participants were requested to put down their R&D priorities on small papers so that they could be put on the wall and a tentative analysis be made. It seemed that the priorities could be grouped into four items No Sustainability 1 Understanding Jatropha influence on food production Study Jatropha agronomy under conditions of poor soils and poor climatic conditions Study Jatropha using good (agricultural) soils and conditions and see how it influences food production 2 Set -up a local knowledge centre on Jatropha: agronomic practices, propagation, etc.. 3 Cooperate with Embrapa as an R&D centre that has done work on Jatropha before 4 Make Jatropha C. a local crop 5 Improve the energy efficiency of fuel production from Jatropha (efficient. presses, use of biogas out of cake, etc..) 6 Analyze total utilization strategies 7 Cooperate with African Countries to ensure sustainability using local criteria for small scale production 8 Research plantations in Africa and creation of a data base on Jatropha No Agronomic practices 1 Disease and pest resistance and biological control 2 R&D on Jatropha oil quality variations 3 Intercropping: plant competition in plantations 4 Study the variability between individual plants in terms of yield and between crop stands 5 Study mechanical harvesting 6 Study the yield under different climatic and soil conditions (in Africa) 7 Research on pest and diseases 8 Plantation size and objective: small scale for rural development versus large scale for oil 9 Best cropping systems with Jatropha (which intercropping best and how) 10 Improved plantation schemes e.g. agro forestry 11 Characterize sustainable viable production systems with Jatropha 12 More understanding Jatropha production yield response to growth factors 13 Micro propagation 14 Costing of Jatropha different schemes of production and uses of products 1 15 CDM issues and potential studies1 No Raw Material 1 Detoxification procedures development 2 Toxicity: economics of processes (e.g. 121 dC for 30 min) 3 Biogas production from by products (energy and fertilizer) 4 Utilization of the fruit caps 5 Investigate pesticides and repellents use of Jatropha 6 Biomass utilization in composites, natural pesticide composite 7 Jatropha oil utilization Coatings and thermoplastics Fine chemicals Specials 8 Detoxification of cake and other uses 9 Improving Jatropha based fuel for better CFPP (cold filtered plugging point) and viscosity 10 Pharmaceuticals identification and extraction 11 Using Jatropha oil for painting glue and polymers 12 Toxicity issues: does it remain in polymers, after refining after heat treatment 60 or 180 to 240 DC 13 Total crop utilization leaves for gasification oil seeds for biodiesel 14 Enzymatic conversion of Jatropha oil to partial glicerid biodiesel currently similar production plant under construction in Brazil (company Vital) 15 Use of present Jatropha oil for biobased diesel (almost identical to conventional diesel by: Hydrogenation catalytic (thermal) processes No Genetic breeding 1 Reduce variability (increase uniformity) 2 Higher productivity and yield and improved oil content using genetic improvement 3 Inventory genetic data base 4 Seed: original and germplasm bank 5 Improvement on drought tolerance for desert area with gen. engineering 6 Provenance trials: with selected accessions 1 added from prof Makkar’s presentation with improved accessions 7 Characterize saline and drought tolerance and low water use and exploit this for other crops 8 Identify molecular markers affecting seed and oil yield (genes proteins metabolites) 9 Breeding and optimize yield components (seed volume and oil content) 10 Genome studies 11 Study transformation: regeneration in vitro Agrobacteriam biolistics 12 Study flowering Asynchronous environment dependent male female ration 13 Flowering uniformity harvesting 14 Gene expression studies Jatropha as model for R&D 15 Preserve genetic database 16 Concentrating crop harvesting period with genetics 17 Nitrogen fixation It can be seen that quite some similar priorities came out and some overlap between the groups occurs. Looking at the priorities from the angle of small scale production and utilization and of large scale export oriented investment schemes, also priorities can be separated accordingly. A first tentative separation is given below. R&D for small scale use and application Demonstrations of cropping systems R&D plantations both stand alone, hedges and intercropping systems Local knowledge centers in African countries Seek cooperation with existing centers of knowledge in EU and outside Optimize use of Jatropha both in production as in use Set local criteria for sustainable production Disease and pest resistance and biological control Study the variability between individual plants in terms of yield and between crop stands Study the yield under different climatic and soil conditions (in Africa) Best cropping systems with Jatropha (which intercropping best and how) Nitrogen fixation using adapted bacteria, or plant roots R&D for large scale Study the variability between individual plants in terms of yield and between crop stands Study the yield under different climatic and soil conditions (in Africa) Study mechanical harvesting More understanding Jatropha production yield response to growth factors Reduce variability (increase uniformity) Higher productivity and yield and improved oil content using genetic improvement Micro propagation Much of the raw material R&D priorities seem to be valid for large scale, but might be also attractive for smaller scale, if there would be market outlets. Detoxification of the cake is both for large and small scale relevant a topic. On the genetics priorities many are useful for both small and large scale, but some might be more interesting for large scale, such as uniformity of yield and high predictability, pest and disease tolerance in mono-cultures, micro propagation, etc.. For small scale, issues like drought resistance, simple seed selection and improvement, disease resistance in intercropping, etc.. might be more relevant to be studied. Conclusions and recommendations In the meeting a wide range of expertise areas was represented, with experts partly having expertise in Jatropha and party not. This enabled a lively exchange of ideas. A first conclusion of the meeting is that EU supported R&D in Jatropha can be justified for two reasons: • The EU Biofuels strategy requiring considerable quantities, and therefore R&D to develop the system and chain. • EU contribution to Millennium goals: poverty alleviation is one of the main carriers and since Jatropha qualifies as a crop that can be beneficial for small farmers, the EU might give due attention to R&D for production and use of Jatropha. The presentations held on the topic gave a realistic picture toward the potential of Jatropha, more than anticipated. Similar to the position paper of the Jatropha seminar in Wageningen (March 2007) the Jatropha experts present, concluded that for small scale farmers the crop can be beneficial. This is even more so if they become part of the chain (rural electricity production or local fuel supply) or if they can convert the raw material to added value products, like lamp oil or soap. For small scale production and use a number of R&D priorities are identified: 1. R&D on stand alone plantations, hedges and intercropping systems 2. Demonstration of systems (production and use, complete chain) 3. Local knowledge centers in African countries, and networking with other R&D centres 4. Set local criteria for sustainable production 5. Disease and pest resistance and biological control 6. Study the yield under different climatic and soil conditions (in Africa) 7. Nitrogen fixation for Jatropha For large scale production much more scientific research is needed to overcome a number of current hurdles. Solutions are needed to reduce crop variability in the field and between fields, low crop yield predictability, pest and disease pressure, harvesting and pruning costs, low flower ratio’s m/f, long flowering periods, etc.. Currently production costs for high yielding Jatropha are higher than those for palm oil per liter. These hurdles make the drivers for R&D in both genetics and agronomic practices, as listed above. A bio-refinery concept is to be promoted for Jatropha as a species: R&D for products needs to be carried out and Jatropha’s competitiveness for such products needs to be evaluated. Large scale production of Jatropha can be suitable for production of such bio refinery materials in special markets (e.g. cosmetics, insecticides), when requiring high standards and substantial volumes. Small scale production of Jatropha can be interesting for small special markets (e.g. fair trade soap). Detoxification of the Jatropha cake can have benefits for small- and large scale production of Jatropha and R&D is to be encouraged. It will provide a higher added value for the cake, as fodder. For large scale production of Jatropha sustainability criteria are different as for small scale. Large investments by EU players require strict application of criteria with respect to labor conditions, biodiversity , etc… Therefore it is recommended to set out different sets of criteria and have these developed and tested. Finally it is recommended to study the CDM2 effects and mechanisms that can be supportive for both small scale and large scale investments. 2 Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocoll