1. The Jatropha plant;
2. The Jatropha activities (1987 – 2007) of Mr. Henning;
3. High yielding plants;
4. Ecology Aspects;
5. Economic Aspects;
The objective of the presentation of Mr. Henning, besides introducing the plant and worldwide Jatropha
activities, was to show how the economic feasibility depends on the selection of high yielding plants for
It is very clear, that plants from seeds have a large biological variation and that it is necessary to select
high yielding plants and to multiply them vegetatively (by
cuttings) to get an economic feasible production rate of
fruits per ha. It is also important to consider an optimum
spacing of plants, depending on water and nutrient
availability and operational aspects, like planting at a
distance, which allows people to pass between the plants
to harvest them manually.
Fruits and flowers on a high yielding,
early fruiting tree (7 months old) in Cambodia
Jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.) is a multiannual plant
which grows for more than 50 years. It is not known,
until which age the production of seeds is
A more than 50 years old plant in Brazil
It is a small tree or big bush which grows up to a hight of about 6 m. The plant resists to long
periods of drought (7 to 8 months in Mali) with a rainfall of more than 600 mm during the
rainy season, but can also grow well in a tropical climate with permanent rainy conditions. The
flowering is permanent during the rainy season. Since the fruit development takes 4 months,
ripe fruits are developed until about 4 months after the end of the rainy season.
Many figures concerning the economic calculation of Jatropha curcas L. as a crop for nonedible
plant oil are not very well established. Many non-realistic and too optimistic figures are
published in the internet, just to make Jatropha presentable in a business plan for investors.
Planting density and yields
During a Jatropha conference in Wageningen in March 2007, experts agreed on a general
acceptable production yield of 3 to 5 metric tons of dry seed per ha (of plantations in full
The optimal tree density is close to 1300 plants per
ha. A density of 2 500, as mentioned vey often, seems
to be to high. Grown-up plants (3 years and older)
don’t allow people to pass between the plants to
harvest the fruits. A distance between the rows of 3 m
seems very important, which gives a number of plants
per ha of 1 300, if the distance of the plants within a
row is 2.5 m, and 1 700 plants, if the distance within a
row is 2 m.
The economic feasibility of Jatropha oil production depends very much on the manual work
needed to harvest the fruits (seeds). Under conditions of a long rainy season, harvesting has to
be done manually, because fruits are continuously ripening – a problem for any mechanical
harvesting. However, if water availability can be controlled a more uniform ripening can be
achieved, eventually mechanical harvesting like with coffee in Brazil could be an option.
Harvesting operations are much more efficient with high yielding varieties, much more fruits
can be collected per working hour.
Maintenance of the plants/plantations
The yield of a plant depends mainly on the number of
branches and on the genetics of the plant. The number of
branches is important, because the inflorescences develop
only at the end of branches. To improve the number of
branches, the plant has to be pruned. If a branch is cut
back, 3 to 5 new
shoots will be
the cutting. This
process can be
repeated all 6 to 8
weeks in the first 2 to 3 years. The result will be a very
bushy plant with many branches and many fruits, if the
genetic basis of the plant allows.
High yielding plants
If a plantation is grown from randomly sampled seeds, all plants will be different. Only few
will be high yielding, most low to medium yielding plants, following a normal distribution (see
Only 1 plant out of 19 plants has a good yield. To establish a good yielding plantation, these
good yielding plants have to be identified and multiplied.
The multiplication of plants can be done by seeds, by cuttings and by tissue culture.
It the plants are multiplied by seeds (the simplest and cheapest method), genes are recombined.
The resulting plans will have a big variation in yield (see high yielding plants). However, a
breeding programme with targeted pollination could lead to elite varieties.
Under current conditions, vegetative multiplication of high yielding individuals is the first
choice. To make sure, that new plantations are high yielding, good yielding plants have to be
identified and need to be multiplied vegetatively (like fruit trees) by cuttings or by tissue
culture (like oil palms).
Multiplication by cuttings is a very easy, but also a very slow process. If large plantation have
to be established one plant will only lead to about 100 to 500 new plants (clones). The clones
will have the same yield as the mother trees.
If tissue culture can be applied, one selected plant can give rise to thousands of new clones.
However, up to now no laboratory is known, which could handle tissue culture for Jatropha.
Some economic estimations:
This table shows (if opened as a file on the computer to work on the spread sheet) the key
factors of the costs of oil production: price of Jatropha seed (this price depends on the time
needed to harvest a certain amount of seeds). The costs of investments (local price of expeller)
does not play an important role in the economy of oil production.
Working hours per day: 8 hours/day
Working days per week: 5 days/week
Working weeks per year: 45 weeks
Working days per year: 225 days/year
Minimal wage per day: 5000 Riel
Minimal wage per hour 625 Riel
Exchange rate for 1 USD: 4000 Riel
National currency: Riel Riel
Price of Jatropha seeds per kg 380 Riel/kg
Extraction rate with mechanical expeller:
(kg seeds for 1 liter of oil): 4,55 kg of seed / l of oil
Diesel consumption of expeller 2,00 liter per hour
Extraction capacity of expeller 250 kg seed per hour
Extraction rate of expeller 22 %
Production rate of expeller 55,00 liters oil per hour
Working time to extract 1 liter of oil with expeller 0,04 hours
Persons working with the expeller: 2 persons
Misc. time for oil extr. (buying spare parts, transport of seed & oil, etc) 0,25 hours/liter
Local price of expeller (1500 USD, Hak bought from nephew): 6000000 Riel
Depreciation of the expeller per 1 liter of oil: 135 Riel
Actual diesel price: 3200 Riel
Life time of expeller 10 years
Purchase of seeds + cost of working time extraction 1 l oil + depreciation 2040,80 Riel
Economic estimation of JCL oil production in Cambodia
Installation costs of plantation as well as storage and transport are not considered
Cost of oil production with expeller (without plantation, storage & transport):
(Mr. Hak, Banteay Meanchey)
1. Identification of high yielding plants worldwide;
the knowledge of such plants is important to establish gene banks as a source of
germplasm for the establishment of high yielding plantations;
2. Establish the technology of tissue culture multiplication of Jatropha plants;
this technology is successfully applied in the improvement of the yield of oil palm
plantations in SE Asia and Africa;
3. Establish plantations of high yielding plants and measure the yield per ha;
the establishment of such plantations gives the basis for future research on the
correlation of yields and agricultural basic inputs, like water and fertilizer;
4. Selection of plants with high oil content in the seeds;
in a second phase of research, plants within the population of high yielding plants have
to be selected, which have a high oil content in their seeds;
5. Selection of plants with a high natural ramification capability;
the number of branches determines the yield of the Jatropha plants. The long term
objective of research has to be to find plants which have the genetic basis, to produce
well ramified plants to reduce the workload of pruning the plants.
Source Reinhard K. Henning, bagani consulting, Rothkreuz 11, D-88138 Weissensberg, Germany.
Tel: +49 8389 984129, e-mail: email@example.com
, internet: www.jatropha.de
The presentation of Mr. Henning included mainly 5 points: