April to June 2006

Jatropha curcas

Organic farm in Cavite to mass-produce Jatropha

An organic farm in Mendez, Cavite, is planting tissue-cultured Jatropha curcas, locally known as tubang bakod, whose promising high-quality plantlets could be produced in large quantities.

Farm manager Percival DV. Perez said that his brother Liberato DV. Perez, who owns the organic farm started doing research on laboratory propagation of coffee varieties ‘Liberica,’ ‘Excelsa,’ and ‘Arabica’ simultaneously with Jatropha last July 2004.

Liberato got promising results from Jatropha, which produced about 30 plantlets per seed. The experiment showed that its roots developed at a high rate upon induction of rooting hormones. They found out that mass production of Jatropha seedlings could done at a faster rate and demand for seedling could be met.

The Perezes then planted tissue-cultured Jatropha seedlings, whose growth rates were comparable with or even better than seed-borne Jatropha seedlings. The tissue-cultured plants grow about a meter high within six months and begin to flower and bear fruit. Those planted from seeds, which also measure a meter tall after six months, do not have similar flowering performance.

Perez said there is bright prospect in growing Jatropha as source of biodiesel since it could easily be mass-produced and propagated.

On yield estimates (based on India’s experience), he explained that one hectare could yield 2,000–5,000 kilograms of beans depending on extent of cultivation. The beans could be converted to 1,900–4,000 liters of fresh oil. Which can be processed to produce 1,300–2,000 liters of biodiesel.

“If idle lands and even public lands are planted with Jatropha, enough biodiesel could be produced to meet the needs of our country,” Perez added.

The Mendez Organic Farm is a three-year-old plant biotechnology venture that conducts studies on improvement of quality seedlings of high-value crops such as banana and coffee.
Researchers working on national biofuel program from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, and University of the Philippines Los Baños recently visited the farm.

[The farm is located at #7 Int F. Mendoza St., Payapa, Mendez, Cavite, Philippines. For more details on their research work and services, please text or call 09164572019 or send e-mail to earthsbestphils@yahoo.com].