The Jatropha Organisation of South Africa                         

                              Jatropha Farming


 Jatropha Farming  

The first thing to remember about Jatropha farming is that:

 (1) There are considerable variations in Jatropha performance and production figures from country to country. For example, the best seed in Brazil (Growth & Form 4) that produces amazing results there may grow very poorly in a country with a more temperate climate. By the same token, one cannot expect a grapevine that grows well here in South Africa to produce the same results in Latin America. There are farmers with massive plantations in many parts of the world that produce inadequate results.

(2) Although Jatropha grows in harsh conditions it doesn't necessarily mean that it will be commercially viable in a first world country. Like with any crop Jatropha still requires quality planting material, standard farming practices and good crop management. In certain areas of Africa and India, where Jatropha is grown, there is a shortage of water but lots of land and cheap labour. So the calculations relative to income and expenditure may still balance.

(3) It is difficult to establish going rates for the import and export of seed for extraction purposes because local markets normally absorb most of their local produce. In 2005 we did intensive calculations for the importation of seed for local extraction of oil. The outcome to say the least was dismal.

(4)  As a result of outdated Oil Expellers, claims as to the quantity of oil extracted vary considerably. While the oil content of certain seed varies, some equipment can extract more oil than others and then of course there's chemical extraction and so on.

In conclusion Jatropha is location specific and production figures are determined by proper agricultural and business practices. It is therefore unwise to interpolate figures from one particular location to another.

Before you start you may download our Questionnaire called Jatropha Feasibility and Market Research in Preparation for Business Plan & Cash Flow Analyses. This form will make the job of doing your business plan a lot easier. Not all the information is required for the Business Plan because some of it is Market Research that will get you to know whether or not your Jatropha Project is feasible.

Location: The infrastructure surrounding your Jatropha Plantation is very important. When you download our Jatropha Farming Cash Flow Analysis Spreadsheet for estimating the income and expenditure to be derived from Jatropha Farming you will notice that there is a row for estimating the cost of transport of seed from your plantation to the nearest Expelling Facility. Without taking proximity of infrastructure into consideration the entire project becomes less cost effective.

These are some of the factors to be considered when doing a Jatropha Feasibility Study:   Download Questionnaire

A.      Biographical Information

 1. Map of Location

 2. Roading:

·         Type of roads.

·         Road infrastructure.

·         Rail.

·         Distances from farms to possible Expelling location.

 3. Security of Land Tenure:

·         Do the farmers/trusts own the land?

·         Is ownership vested in individuals/companies/trusts?

·         Can one enter into contracts to protect an investment and if so with who?

·         Is there enforcement for people to meet contractual obligations?

·         What recourse is there for enforcement of compliance?

 4. Infrastructure:

·         Telecommunications.

·         Availability of Broadband.

·         Access to power.

·         Cost of housing/rental accommodation.

 5. Government:

·         Taxation/ How much/ How will a company be taxed?

·         Is company registration/formation obligatory?

·         How much red tape is there?

·         Is the Government pro Investment?

 6. Labour:

·         Minimum wages.

·         Average Wage.

·         Labourers Wage.

·         Supervisor Wage?

·         Paydays - Weekly/monthly?

·         Unionized?

·         Is Labour friendly and compliant?

·         Location of labour to proposed enterprise.

·         Reliable & trustworthy staff to run the operation?    

 7. Safety:

·         Thefts/ Equipment.

·         Personal   


B.      Farming Information 

 1. Climatic conditions:

·         Rainfall

·         Temperature

·         Soil Conditions

·         Access to water & irrigation

 2. Land/Topography:

·         Undulating

·         Steep

·         4X4 required

·         Wet season Muddy/Dry/Accessible.

 3. Jatropha:

·         Price of seed being paid to farmers.

·         Quality of seed/ Percentage of oil.

·         Confirm hectare.

·         Check number of trees.

·         Spacing.  

2. Nursery:

·         Is the land flat enough to establish a nursery operation.

·         Is it close to the main

·         road/highway?

·         Distance of farm to Nursery.

·         Availability of Water and cost.

·         Availability of Good Soil/Potting/Planting mediums.

 3. Planting/Transplantation Method:

·         Manual 

·         Filling & Seeding Equipment  

·         Post Hole Borer

 4. Farming methods being used for:

·         Pruning

·         Fertilization

·         Irrigation 

5. Harvesting:  

·         Harvesting Methods/How are they currently harvesting Jatropha?

·         What are they using to put it in after harvesting?

·         How are the seeds transported?

·         Around plantation.

·         On the road.

·         Lifting onto and/or off at different locations?

·         Containers being used?

·         Packaging for for transportation?

 6. Intercropping:

·         Is intercropping taking place?

·         If so, what sorts of crops are being grown between?

·         Value/Selling Prices.

·         How are the Jatropha farmers making their money now?


 7. Capital Expenditure:

We can assist you with consultation on the following: Site Investigation, Soil Analysis, Soil Chemical Characteristics, Agro Climate Data, Site Preparation, Propagation, Nursery Activities, Weed Control, Soil Preparation, Planting, Transplanting, Crop Development, Pruning, Pests and Diseases, Fertilization, Irrigation, Maintenance and Post - Planting Assessments. Creation of Business Plans. Contact Us

 C. Create Business Plan & Source Funding. 

Please bear in mind that your Income,  Expenditure and ultimate Profit will largely be determined by the tree spacing and whether or not you intend to Intercrop. Our Jatropha Farmers Cash Flow Analysis will enable you to determine your income on the basis of the following Jatropha Tree Spacing:

    Space between Jatropha Trees:

2m x 2m apart = 2500 trees

2.5m x 2.5m apart = 1600 trees    

3m x 2m apart = 1667 trees

3m x 3m apart = 1111 trees

3m x 4m apart = 833 trees

 D.  Launch Operation.

Before launching a Jatropha Operation I have to stress the importance of acquiring quality plant material. It would be the most futile exercise to commence such an operation without having certified seed benchmarks. The Jatropha Organisation of South Africa has access to the most improved seed available anywhere in the world. The seed comes from an R & D Seed Farm in Brazil and a Jatropha Laboratory in Rajasthan India.    

E. You may also contact us for the following: 

1.       Download Jatropha Germination Instructions.

2.       A Jatropha Farming Handbook .

3.       A Plantation & Management System Diary. 

Evaluation and monitoring should be carried out at all times. Your company should subscribe to Management by objectives meaning that clearly defined short, medium and long term goals must be established. A detailed Plantation & Management System Diary must be kept. If you’re remiss at doing this carry a small Tape Recorder/Dictaphone and record your observations.

Information taken from your Plantation and Management System Diary can then be summarized in order to carry out Quarterly Evaluations which in turn can be used to assess your progress in conjunction with prescribed production and financial goals.


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  Today's Date: 07/17/2012 02:34

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