In Singapore, JOil signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Agritech Faso SA to explore the development of 250,000 Ha of Jatropha plantations intercropped with food crops using JOil’s elite, high-yielding Jatropha varieties. Field trials will be carried out using JOil’s growing materials at Agritech’s plantations in Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. The two parties will enter into a formal business arrangement based on the results of the trials.

The Major Jatropha Plantation in West Africa

The planned plantations are expected to be located in Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin and will have, in addition to growing areas, a refinery to produce biofuels, in addition to AGRITECH FASO’s existing high efficiency processing plant located in Boni, 230 KM from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital. The footprint is expected to be around 250,000 Ha when in full operation.

All planting materials will be supplied by JOil who will also provide technical consultation for the field trials and subsequent development of the plantation. JOil was incorporated by Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory Limited, Tata Chemicals (through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tata Chemicals Asia Pacific Pte Ltd), Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and other investors in 2008.

Market Leadership in West Africa

Seeing the need for biofuel and sustainable development, the founding members of Agritech started to work on biofuel projects as early as 2007. Agritech has identified West Africa as a promising region for cultivation of Jatropha, using its proprietary intercropping models. In Sub-Saharan Africa where vegetative cover is scarce, intercropping food crops with Jatropha helps to stop soil erosion and restores degraded lands providing a significant increase and sustainability on food crops yields.

“Currently, Agritech and our affiliates in West Africa have planted 4,000 Ha of Jatropha curcas intercropped with food crops and have access to over 100,000 Ha of land. We have seen the data from JOil’s Jatropha plant science and the performance of their trials in India. Given the yields they are achieving of more than 2.2 tons in the first year which is about twice that achieved elsewhere, we plan to use JOil’s enhanced Jatropha varieties and methods on our plantations,” said William Kwende, Chairman and CEO of Agritech.

“They have solid science and a strong intellectual property portfolio. We expect that the partnership with JOil will rapidly broaden to areas such as agro technologies, processing and renewable energies applications much needed for the development of West Africa”, he added.

Peter Chia, Director of JOil said, “Agritech has established a significant presence in West Africa in the bioenergy space by promoting a community based intercropping model along with Jatropha. Agritech has recently commissioned a high performance 20 tons per day jatropha oil production plant designed for expansion to 120 tons per day. This MOU will demonstrate how high yielding Jatropha varieties can impact large-scale commercial projects and make Jatropha a feedstock of choice for biofuel production in West Africa and other areas.”

Development of High-Yielding Jatropha

JOil’s trials in India and other regions have demonstrated better uniformity, improved self-branching, early flowering and high productivity (seed yield of > 2.2 tons in first year, > 3.5 tons in second year and expected to exceed 5 tons of mature yield) compared to other varieties and wild accessions of Jatropha planted in similar conditions.