PRODUCTION AND USE OF JATROPHA
Introduction The guide is intended primarily to guide smallholder farmers and other stakeholders involved in the production and use of the jatropha plant (Jatropha curcas). The guideline details the processes and procedures involved in the sustainable production of jatropha and the multiple contributions the tree and its products make to the livelihoods of vulnerable households in the semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe. Pictures have been inserted to illustrate some of the processes involved and the available technology options for utilizing the jatropha plant and seeds. It is our hope that the guidelines will be useful in the facilitation of Community Based Natural Resources Management interventions that build the resilience of vulnerable households in the fragile semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe. The jatropha (Jatropha curcas l) plant is not new to Zimbabwe. It has been cultivated since its introduction in the 16th century by Portuguese and Arab traders. Initially, jatropha was found predominantly in the north-eastern parts of the The Jatropha plant. country but has now spread to other parts of country. It is similar in most aspects to the castor plant, the Shona and Ndebele names and similar to castor i.e. pfuta and ummlhafutho respectively. In Mutoko the plant has got the name Mujirimono. Ecology/Agronomy The plant originated from Latin America but is now wide spread throughout arid and semi-and tropical regions of the world. It is a drought tolerant plant that does well on marginal soils i.e. low fertility and alkaline soils. It is a perennial plant that can live up to 50 years. The plant produces seed that yield industrial oil (35%).The plant is fast growing and can achieve a height of 3 meters in three years. Planting of seeds, seedlings and cuttings is best done early in the rainy season. Seed yields for jatropha are as high as 8-12 tons per hectare. Jatropha propagation Jatropha seedlings can be produced in poly-pots and be natured until they reach plantable sizes. Dried sees are soaked overnight and sown directly in plastic bags measuring 10 x 20 cm. Polypots measuring are filled with a specially prepared soil medium containing a high concentration of organic materials (compost) about three months before the beginning of the rainy season. One seed is planted in each bag. Use of fresh seeds improves germination. Germination takes place after 12 days and continues for two weeks. Seedlings should remain in the nursery for up to three months.
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Production and use of jatropha
Alternatively jatropha seedlings can also be produced from seed sown in mass-production beds. Seeds can be sown directly 2 to 3cm in the soil three months before the start of the rain season. The resultant naked rooted plants can then be transplanted when they are 50 cm. This method is very appropriate for regions which receive an annual rainfall amount of not less than 500mm per annum. The advantage of mass production beds is that you don't need to spend money on polypots and you can equally produce healthy seedlings. However, great care is required when transplanting the seedlings as most of the seedlings experience some stress which may affect their establishment rate and at times lead to higher mortality rates if not appropriately done.
Figure 1: Planting of jatropha seed in poly-pots. Sowing of seed in mass production beds.
In situ planting of seed The third method of producing jatropha from seed is planting it directly in the field where it will grow. This method is normally employed in areas that receive high rainfall of about 800mm per year. The seed is sown at the beginning of the rain season and the planting site needs good land preparation well in advance. The method is applicable where large amount of seed is available and thinning may be necessary six months after germination to ensure regular spacing between the saplings so as to avoid competition for nutrients and growing space. Normally the plants have a slow take-off and may grow slowly during the establishment year. Once established the trees may do better especially with good care. Spacing Jatropha hedgerows that are intended for soil conservation should be planted 0.15m-0.25m by 0.15-0.25m in one or two rows and 2m by 1.5m to 2.5m by 2m for plantations Thus there will be between 4000 and 6700 plants in each kilometre for a single hedgerow and double that for two rows. Closer spacing is recommended for marginal sites. In fertile and humid agroecosystems, jatropha trees tend to develop wider and deeper canopies and therefore require even bigger growing space. Vegetative propagation Jatropha can be propagated using cuttings or truncheons. Production using cuttings Cuttings should be older than one year, already lignified and about 60cm to 120cm long. The cuttings can be raised in a nursery in poly-pots or in mass production beds. The cutting can also be plated directly in-situ in the field. The best planting time is during the dry season when the plant is in dormancy before the rainy season starts. Planting of cuttings during the rainy season normally results in higher mortality rates due to rotting. For live fencing, cuttings can be planted like a fence of dead wood, one cutting beside the next. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for roots to develop. If well maintained, this kind of live fence can be knit well enough to keep even chicken out of gardens. With vegetative propagation, the first seed yield is higher. The fruits can be produced between 12 to 15months. However, seed yield becomes low as time goes by as the plant tires. It is important to remember that the productive life-span of jatropha trees grown from cuttings is shorter than those established from seeds. This is referred to in some books as longevity. For this reason it is important to include in one's plantation planting stock from cuttings and from seed. Production using truncheons Jatropha can also be produced from truncheons and the planting material must be collected and planted during the dry season when the plant is in dormancy. This method has the advantage of giving instant results as the trees establishes quickly and higher seed yields may be attained during the first year. This method may however result in higher mortality rates in areas of high termite infestations. 2
Production and use of jatropha
Management, harvesting and m arketing Jatropha is a fast growing plant. For hedges, it must be timely trimmed to achieve desired results. Harvesting time is usually May to August. Currently the only active buyer is NOCZIM. It is important to note that the major benefits in growing of jatropha is that it may result in the decline in rural dependence on manufactured goods such as soaps, candles and energy supply. It is also important to sell value added goods rather than to sell unprocessed seed. 3 Crop husbandry practices Soil nutrient management Depending on the soil chemical and physical characteristics, application of nutrients may be necessary initially, particularly in nutrient deficient sites. Experience from plantation development and smallholder production indicates that addition of nutrient improves biomass growth, general productivity and plant health. Such remedial nutrient additions may be needed for up to two years after establishment. Commonly applied sources of Nutrient include: Farmyard manure-applied at a rate of 10-15 tons per ha Nitrogen fertilizers- at approximately 90kg per ha Phosphorus fertilizers- at 50kg per ha Potassium and sulphur based fertilizers should be used only on sites with P and S deficiencies Supplementary irrigation Provision of supplementary water may be necessary for successful establishment; especially in soils that do not have enough moisture. Mulching and rain water harvesting can be used to increase moisture availability for plants. Inter-cropping Inter-cropping of jatropha with an under-crop species is encouraged for effective use of available growing space and faster establishment. Compatible crops – such as groundnuts, cowpeas, beans, peas, vegetables are recommended, particularly in the early stages before plant canopy closes. Pruning To stimulate growth, side branch development and seed production, older jatropha shrubs should be pruned a month before the onset of short rains. It is recommended to carry out top pruning by cutting the top off cleanly, 90 to 120 days, after planting in the field to stimulate maximum sprouting of branches, fruiting and seed development. Root pruning is recommended when jatropha is interplanted with vanilla or other food crops to reduce competition for nutrients below ground surface. Jatropha takes three years to produce Figure 2: Effects of pruning on seed seed if planted from production. seed and 12 to 15 months to produce seed if planted from cuttings or truncheons. Under rain fed conditions yields have been reported to be ranging from 200g to 2.5kg per Tree per year whilst under irrigation conditions reported yields range from 500g to 5 kg per tree per year. Pruning of planted trees during the end of the first year will result in the tree developing many branches which can lead to higher seed yields of more than 45%. Pruning can also be done on an annual basis for mature trees and this results in rigorous regrowth from which more seed can be harvested. Branches 3
Figure 3: Pruning increases number of branches.
Production and use of jatropha
pruned off can also be used as planting material to extend live fences and plantations. Pruning also keeps the trees short and within reach for easy picking of seed by hand. 4
Figure 4: Pruned jatropha develops many branches which lead to more seed being produced per tree. Breeding Jatropha flowers during rainy season. In equatorial regions, flowering occurs throughout the year. Fruit development takes 90 days from flowering until seeds mature. The plant is cross pollinated, thus genetic improvement has to be based on populations. Plants for further genetic improvement can be based on oil yield, growth rate and resistance to pests and diseases. Weed control For hedges, weeds should be controlled from the time jatropha plants emerge until they reach a height of 40 to 50 cm. In plantations, regular weeding should be done and the dead weeds used as mulch. Fire protection Jatropha planted in hedges or plantation should be protected from fire. This is normally done by creating fire traces around the plantations or hedges towards the end of the rain season. Good weed control can also result in plantations being protected from fire. Pests and diseases Literature indicates that contrary to popular belief that toxicity and insecticidal properties of jatropha are a sufficient deterrent to insects that causes economic damage in plantations, several groups of insects can harm the plant. Particularly noteworthy is the Heteroptera insect order that has at least 15 species in Nicaragua that can extract nutrients from the physic nut. The stem borer from the Coleoptera family of Cerambycidae, known as a minor pest in cassava, can kill mature physic nut trees. Figure 5: Leaf defoliating insects. The relatively few leaf eating insects present are not capable of doing much damage once the trees have passed the seedling stage.
Biological control using beneficial arthropods composed of mostly polyphagous predators and specialized parasitoids either by conservation or augmentative release is recommended. The conservation approach of biological control is more cost efficient (Grimm and Maes, 1997). Powdery mildew damages leaves and flowers, Alternaria causes premature leaf fall, and golden flea beetles eat young leaves and shoots. Millipedes can cause total loss of young seedlings. In some areas of Zimbabwe, for instance, the golden flea beetle (Podagrica spp.) has been known to cause harm as it eats young leaves and shoots, particularly on young plants. Jatropha is also host to the fungus “frogeye” (Cercospera spp.) common in tobacco. Other pests affecting Jatropha curcas include Clitocybe tabescens (root rot), Colletotrichum gloeosporioides 4
Production and use of jatropha
(leaf spot), and Phakopsora jatrophicola (rust). Mosaic disease can also attack jatropha, especially if the planting site has been under infected cassava crop. Fi
Figure 6: Dumping –off and root rot.
Damage and symptoms Damping off, root rot
Remedy Heller (1992)
Phytophthora spp., Pythium spp., Fusarium spp. Helminthosporium tetramera Pestalotiopsis paraguarensis Pestalotiopsis versicolor Cercospora jatrophae -curces Julus sp. (millipede) Oedaleus senegalensis (locust) Lepidopterae larvae Pinnaspis strachani (cushion
Leaf spots Leaf spots Leaf spots Leaf spots Total loss of seedlings Leaves, seedlings Galleries in leave s Die-back of branches Die-back of branches Sucking on fruits Sucking on fruits Larval feeding on leaves Shrunken leaves, Stunted growth similar to symptoms in Cassava Leaf spots White Pecs on the leaves
Singh (1983) Singh (1983) Philips (1975) Kar and Dars (1987) Heller (1992) Heller (1992) Heller (1992) Van Harten, pers. comm. Van Harten, pers. comm. Van Harten, pers. comm. Van Harten, pers. comm. Meshram and Joshi (1994) VJDF-Field Observation
Ferrsia virgata (wooly aphid) Calidea dregei (blue bug) Nezara viridula (green stink
Mosaic disease( Cited at Turkwel Gorge) Red Mite Dowery Mildew
VJDF-Field Observation VJDF-Field Observation
Table 1: Pests and diseases observed on jatropha. 6
By Thembinkosi Nyathi , Published by Practical Action Southern Africa on 02/02/02
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