[social_buttons] By 2012, a large portion of India’s Uttar Pradesh region will be converted into Jatropha, a non-edible oil-seed crop that can be grown on marginal land.
40% of recently set aside “wasteland” in India’s populous norther region will be put into Jatropha production in the next few years, according to sources within the country. That makes for an estimated 26,721 hectares (about 66,000 acres) of land that will be converted into biodiesel crop production.
Jatropha is a member of the plant family Euphorbiacea, which is famous for tropical succulents that contain a number of highly toxic but useful compounds. Seeds from Jatropha can contain up to 40% oil, but productivity for domesticated plants varies. Estimates peg oil production yield around 58-73 US gallons per acre. Based on the estimated land use above, India could be growing anywhere from 3.8 to 4.8 million gallons of oil per year in a few years.
It’s unclear what the large-scale impacts of Jatropha cultivation will be (as is the definition of “wasteland”), but the plant could significantly contribute to India’s explicit (and incredibly optimistic) goal of reaching energy independence by 2012.
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Photo Credit: jatropha podagrica, MyAngelG via Flickr under Creative Commons License