Shri Shiv Charan ji Mathur H E Governor of Assam and former Chief Minister of Rajasthan  was an able administrator,  a great visionary and one who ruled heart and mind of the people by his progressive ideas and openmindedness.  He treated everyone with great affectionand personal understanding.  As a Chairman of SPRI he was great  source of inspiration for the Biofuel project carried out by SPRI with support from World Bank and he himself sat through the proceedings of the training conducted for the farmers at SPRI in large number of Government officials and NGOs participated. This seminar under the chairmanship of Shri Shiv Charan ji Mathur was crystallizing factor for the Biofuel policy of the state of Rajasthan and lateron also impacted National Biofuel policy which has been carved by the Govt of India under the Prime Ministership of Professor Man Mohan Singh.

The World Bank adjudged SPRIs proposal of “Fences for Fuel” under the most innovative project programme in 2005. The main aim of the project was to promote Jatropha which is grown on the fences of the fields as a non-renewable source of energy in Rajasthan. Under the Project about 1,000,00 Jatropha Plants have been planted in the Viratnagar region of Rajasthan. Simultaneously about 165 Farmer Clubs have been formed in the region. A Study on the indoor pollution was conducted which revealed that the indoor pollution levels in rural houses have shown alarming levels of pollutant particles and gases even in relatively bigger rural houses. There is a proven expertise under the supervision of Dr. Sudhir Verma IAS (Retd.) consisting of botanists, mechanical and chemical engineers and social scientists. As apart of the learning from the project, a need was felt to upscale the project as well as provide lateral and forward linkages to the set up provided by this project in order to promote Jatropha plantation in the State. SPRI  is embarking on project for rural health with support from UNDP in coming years. Problems and prospects of Jatropha cultivation in Rajasthan.

This paper is dedicated to his fond memories and its our endevour to fulfil the mission Biofuel and take it to rural areas to the grassroot level to benefit the womenfolk with support from different United Nations Agencies and NGOs.


The one and only alternative fuel that can be used directly in any diesel motor, without requiring any type of modification,  is Biodiesel. Today, this motors require a fuel that being subjected to the different conditions in wich it operates, remains stable and on the other hand clean when being burned. Possessing similar properties with the petroleum diesel fuel, both can be mix in any proportion, without generating problems at all.

The biodiesel is an ideal fuel for its low emissions, in the marine areas, national parks and forests and mainly in the big cities like for example United States that uses it in its different mixtures for the public transportation. The great strength that the Biodiesel represents as a fuel resides in its possibility of being generated starting from cultivations that are abundant in our country as the soya and the sunflower among other, generating an yield for the agricultural sector and consequently a descent of the unemployment.

Norms for the Biodiesel

The users of Biodiesel, from the motors manufacturers to the other interveners parties, need the development of reliable norms to give security in order to facilitate its commercialization.The countries where these users reside, demand other benefits besides the economic ones such as environmental and of health. Developed nations as Austria (ORORM C 1190), Germany (DIN V51606) and USA (ASTM D6751) have established similar norms for the Biodiesel with particular specifications as for example, the glicerol quantification, that are not given in the norms for DF. The European regulatory scheme has the particularity of including the number of Iodine (Iodine Value) since generally, in this continent colza oil is used in the production of Biodiesel.




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The acceptable maximum value is IV = 115 that would exclude soy oil and its esters, since these exceed that limit. They are different types of biodiesel. On one hand there exists the derivated of vegetables oils with a high content of saturated compounds, (low IVs) these possess a CN (Centane number) bigger, while their properties in low temperatures are worse. On the other hand and also known, is the Biodiesel coming from vegetables oils with a high content of unsaturated compounds, (high IVs) that possess a smaller CN, while their properties in low temperatures are better. Consequently, the CN and the IVs are inversely proportional. When adding to the norms a maximum of IVs, the minimum CN would be restricted. Considering that most of the esters have a bigger CN that the vegetable oils and the conventional Diesel fuels, they overcome without any type of inconveniences the minimum imposed by ASTM (CN mín = 40). An argument contrary to the inclusion of the IV in the norms of Biodiesel, is that different compositions of fatty acids give a same IV. For example, pure methyl oleate has the same IV that the mixture 1 to 1 of methyl estearate and methyl linoleate. The IV ignores structural factors in the fatty compounds where the CN depends on the double link position, longitude of the chain, etc. To increase the CN of the oils of some plants through the development of new preservatives that are more effective in spite of their high grade of insaturation, is a possible alternative.

National Biofuel Policy:

    With an estimated population of 1.1 billion, India is the world’s second most populous country Agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy. Agriculture and allied sectors contribute nearly 22 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP of India),while about 65-70 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

The country’s recently-revised national biofuel policy, announced in September 2008, sets out the government’s intentions in black-and-white: to produce 20 per cent of the country’s diesel from crops by 2017, primarily from plantations of jatropha (Jatropha curcas). The government has tried to find a win-win solution. In an attempt to help the poor share the rewards of the country’s anticipated biofuel boom, the expansion of jatropha production is taking place through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Under proposed plans, local communities will be paid to plant, tend and harvest the crop on common land.


Jatropha curcas a potential plant for biofuel:

The plant is found wild in several parts of the world and has been cultivated successfully in Mali, Central America, Guatemala, Indonesia, Senegal and Zambia. In India Govt of India Department of Biotechnology, has supported Jatropha Plantations under macromission project of planning commission.

Jatropha curcas grows wild in Udaipur division in Rajasthan. Chattisgarh state and several other northern states of India. Under the micro-mission programme of Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India research work was initiated by  DBT in 2004. It was carried out in different states of the country regarding selection of eltie material, its propagation, yield evaluation, genetic characterization and developing proper agro-technology. Under a Department of Biotechnology research project sanctioned to Professor Ashwani Kumar at University of Rajasthan, Jaipur 302004 work was started  on collection of eltie material. Several locations have been identified 21 accessions have been collected out of which data has been completed on 11 and 4 out of which are high yielding i.e. heptane extractable oil contents are over 35 percent. Analysis of 19 samples is in progress. Unsaturated fatty acids range over 77 % in four accessions. The oil content analysis was done at Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi by Dr Nutan Kaushik.The application of nutrients improved plant growth but it did not improve the flowering. An attempt was made to improve flowering and fruiting which is reported. Present study was aimed to increase total oil yield of Jatropha curcas






Fig. 1. Different agro-climatic zones of Rajasthan have different prospects of Jatropha cultivation.



Distribution of Jatropha in Rajasthan:



Rajasthan is situated between 23°3’N and 30°12’ N latitude and 69°30’ and 78°17’ E longitude. The total land area of the state is about 3, 42,239 km2, out of which about 1, 96,150 km2 is arid and rest is semi-arid.  Rajasthan has basically two agroclimatic zones:  North West of Aravallis and other is South East of Aravallis and roughly the Aravalli hills divide them into two. The current distribution shows that introduction has been most successful in the drier regions of the tropics with annual rainfall of 300-1000 mm (Fig 1 and 2). It occurs mainly at lower altitudes (0-500 m) in areas with average annual temperatures well above 20°C but can grow at higher altitudes and tolerate slight frost. It   grows on well-drained soils with good aeration and is well adapted to marginal soils with low nutrient content   Present studies aimed at developing agrotechnology for Jatropha cultivation in Rajasthan and yield optimisation with minimum inputs.


The dividing line runs approximately in the vicinity of Mt. Abu to Alwar with prominent of Aravalli hills (Fig 1) The zones lying south east of Aravallis namely  Zone IV A, IV B are natural habitat of wild Jatropha and zone III A and Zone III B have been found suitable in our studies while  Zone V could also have potential. The zones North west of Aravallis Zone I A,B,C  and II A and II B  having rainfall below 300 mm and are not suitable for economically viable Jatropha cultivation. The rainfall pattern as indicated in Fig 2 further elaborates the areas suitable for Jatropha cultivation. Besides it need humid atmosphere at the time of flowering. The flowers shrivel and fall if the flowering is followed by dry season. Besides older plants are able to bear more fruits under natural conditions on slopes then in the flat grounds. The plant is mainly grown on hedges.















Fig. 7.   Jatropha tree   Fig 8. Elite jatropha plant


Cultivation of Jatropha curcas:



Udaipur division is natural habitat for Jatropha (Fig ) . The climate of Udaipur is tropical. The summer season is hot, with the average temperature hovering around 38.3° C (max) to 28.8° C (min). The climate of Udaipur, Rajasthan is quite pleasant in winters. The average temperature falls in the range of 28.3° C (max) to 11.6° C (min).


Udaipur weather experiences scanty rainfall in the monsoon season, somewhere around 61 cm, approximately. Udaipur is a hilly area with several lakes and water table is around 50 feet. Mixed Red and Black Soil are found in the eastern parts of Udaipur while Ferruginous Red Soil is found in other regions of Udaipur. This soil is poorer in nitrogen, phosphorous and humus. Organic carbon and nitrogen are low to medium level in this soil. (B) Area of experimentation- Four accessions having oil contents more than 35 percent were selected for multiplication at the Energy Plantation Demonstration Centre, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur under Department of Biotechnology supported micro













mission programme.  These accessions were also raised at SPRI, Jaipur. Jaipur has hot and scorching summers and cool winters, which are pleasanter. The mercury rises to as high as 45°C in summers, when the minimum temperature is 25.8°C. In winters the maximum temperature restricts itself to about 22°C. However, nights can be cold and temperature can be as low as 8.3 °C.


Jaipur Soil is Yellowish Brown and Non-Calcil Brown. Red and Yellow Soil are poorer in carbonate and humus content. Calcium carbonate is absent. Salt content is low. Alluvial Soils of Jaipur are deficient in lime, phosphoric acid and humus. This soil produces a large variety of crops including wheat, rice, cotton and tobacco. About 5.5 kg seeds were used for the plantation in 1 ha. The plants were raised in polybags 6cm X 25 cm in the month of March- April. Seeds were sown in each polybag at 3-4 cm depth. The seeds germinated after a week. The eight to ten weeks old seedlings (10 to 15 cm in height) were used for plantation during July to August. The plants were also raised during February - March by  division. The plant height varied from 3 to 5 meter and stem diameter from 55 cm to 80 cm. The plants were 10yrs or more in age. Each plant had and average yield of 3.5 to 10 kg per flowering season of six months in three flushes. The seed oil contents were RU I (35.53 %); RU II (36.41 %); RU III (36.36); RU VIII (35.25 %). RU I and RU II were further multiplied at the Viratnagar fields under SPRI- world Bank project. The plants raised at University of Rajasthan and SPRI yielded up to 37.5 to 39.5 percent oil contents.



Agrotechnology of Jatropha cultivation:



Although Jatropha is adapted to low fertility sites and alkaline soils, but in order to obtain economically viable yields fertilizers containing small amounts of calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are used along with Farm Yard Manure and Vermicompost. It grows for nearly 50 years after planting. Mycorrhizal associations have been observed with Jatropha and are known to aid the plant’s   growth under conditions where phosphate is limiting. Some studies have reported 1 kg of farmyard manure/ plus 100 g of Neem waste for every seedling, with a    recommendation of 2500 plants per ha totaling to 2.5 t organic fertilizer per ha considerabley improves plant growth.   In addition to this inorganic fertilizers such as N, P and K have been recommended after transplantation and the establishment of the plants. Twenty gram urea + 120 g   single super phosphate and 16 g Muriate of potash has been recommended (IARI personal communication). Specific intolerance with other crops has not been   detected. On the contrary the shade can be exploited for shade-loving herbal plants; vegetables such red and green peppers, tomatoes, etc. Intercropping with leguminous crops has also been reported. However studies on proper agroclimatic conditions suitable for Jatropha cultivation with a view of   multilocational trials have not been reported.






Fig. 4. Jatropha seeds collected from field.












Photo from Field Fences for Fuel Project -Virat Nagar, Jaipur

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Fig. 3, 4 Jatropha cultivation on hedges and plantations. Fig 5. Oil extracted from Jatropha seeds. Fig 6. Oil expeller machine.


Oil Extraction and Expeller































Future studies proposed to be conducted by SPRI on utilization of biofuel:


   The plantation of Jatropha has been carried out in around 40 villages of Viratnagar and an yield of 25 tonnes of seeds is expected with modest estimates. Substitution of wood and fossil fuels with bio-fuels will prevent destruction of forests, mitigate green house gas emissions and other polluting emissions and shall help in wining carbon credits.    The present project aims at in house testing of biofuel stoves, their upscaling and popularization at rural and urban poor level. This will lead to environmental improvement and green house gas reduction. The raw seeds shall be collected from local growers or purchased from different sources in Rajasthan. Oil shall be extracted using SHG support installed expeller units.  This oil will be marketed through self help groups of women to individual user to be used in biofuel stoves. The stoves will be provided to the households either through the project at a subsidized cost.   The project related to the use of Jatropha oil for cooking purposes to replace the non-renewable resources of energy has been divided into various steps.  into various steps.  Global Environment Impact  Educating the village people to prevent deforestation and substitution of fossil fuel with biofuel for utilization in energy efficient and zero carbon emission level stoves shall help in green house gas mitigation and ultimately climate change. It will also get carbon credits at the village self help group level and panchayat level for use in development programmes.  Apart from the renewable biofuel resource the use of Jatropha oil by the rural household will contribute to the reduction of environmental degradation. Further the hedges of Jatropha with luxuriant root system would not only contain wind and water erosion so prevalent in Rajasthan but also increase in soil fertility. In addition, the oil cake remains after the extraction of oil is a good organic fertilizer quite comparable to chicken manure. Reduction of green house gas emission with the large-scale usage of cleaner biofuel of Jatropha oil. When compared to petrodiesel, it reduces the indoor pollution caused by particulate matter, sulphates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons etc so detrimental to the health of a housewife, children and elderly who spend almost 20 hours per day indoors.