Friday, August 7, 2009
An update and analysis of the project site
Dear followers of Project Jatropha,
I am pleased to report that the seedlings from the Phase I farmers are growing very well. The farmers have been growing the seedlings as a hedge crop, in bunds (which are small plots), on wasteland, or with tobacco (intercropping). We also noted that the plants that had been irrigated were significantly larger than those that had just been rain-fed. In fact, the tallest irrigated plants were around 4 feet tall and were bearing several clumps of fruit whereas the tallest rain-fed plants were only 2-3 feet tall and had no flowers, let alone fruits. In addition, the plants that had been fertilized with manure were larger than those that had not been fertilized. Both of these cases illustrate that although Jatropha curcas can survive and grow in harsh conditions without irrigation and fertilizers, the use of both cultivation methods greatly increases the plant's growth. Mr. Abignan Gurukar, a Research Officer at Labland Biotechs, told us that a good supply of water is essential for the first year of the seedlings' lives if the farmers wish to maximize the plants' producitivity. For Jatropha curcas to be grown by these small farmers on an economically viable scale, it is necessary to cultivate the plants, especially in the beginning of their lives when they need the most care. Only then can Project Jatropha truly be able to offer poverty alleviation for the farmers in our project.