Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Unique Experience with a dual role of a virtual farmer and plant pathologist

Pictures of microorganisms isolated from the seed coat of Jatropha Curcas
Gram Positive Rod

Gram Negative Cocci



Dear readers of our blog,
As we have received a couple of emails with inquiries about the training we underwent in Labland Biotechs in August 2009, we thought of sharing our experience. Labland Biotechs is a plant biotechnology company located in Mysore, India. It has a modern biotechnology lab and a green house for mass multiplication of different plants, including Jatropha curcas.They are our collaborators and advisers. They supplied the high quality Jatropha seedlings to the farmers and provided agronomic training. They have also made a commitment to buy the seeds from the farmers in two years. We thought of undergoing a training in order to get a first hand experience in Jatropha cultivation. It wasn't easy, but it was very educational. In the morning, we were virtual farmers getting ready to sow the Jatropha seeds. By afternoon, we were botany students learning about seed germination. The process involved softening the seed coats with a dilute hydrochloric acid solution in order to speed up germination. Next day we entered the farmers' world again as we created a batch of artificial soil that the seeds were planted in. The soil was a mixture of sand, red dirt, manure, and coconut husks, designed to supply plenty of water and nutrients to the seeds after they sprout. For a couple of days, we wore the masks of plant pathologists involved in isolating fungi that grows on Jatropha seeds. We have posted a couple of pictures of the fungi that we isolated. In addition,we wore the hats of a factory laborer and extracted oil from the dried seeds. Then, we became students of chemical engineering, as we learned the process of conversion of both regular, edible vegetable oils and Jatropha oil into biodiesel on both a commercial and laboratory scale. The training was a huge deal and by the end the day, we were extremely tired, but content. We are very glad that we underwent the training and developed a new respect for the farmers. We thank Dr. Sudheer Shetty, Dr. Geetaa Singh for giving us the opportunity to undergo the training. We also would like to thank Ms. Subina Narayan and Mr. Abignan Gurukar for training us.

Thanks for Reading!
~Apoorva and Adarsha


  1. Great pictures! (And what on earth is an Aspergillus??)

    Also, you mentioned that Labland Biotech would buy the seeds in two years. Is that how long it takes for the plants to mature?


  2. Aspergillus is an aerobic fungus. There are hundreds of species of this mold which grows on nutrient rich substrate like seeds.
    Adarsha did you isolate the fungus from the surface? Is this fungus detrimental to the growth of the plant? Do you discard those seeds with the fungus?

  3. Adarsha,
    Is this residential program? What exactly is a week? Is this a five day course or 7 days? Is there a village nearby where you worked or is it a plantation? Does this course have a defenitive start or end dates? Can you give us some details. Though summer is still far away, this sounds like a great program.
    Mrs. Andorra

  4. Helen: They take around 2-3 years to fully mature (become economically viable). They still produce fruit in the first two years of their lives, however.

    Lilian: For your question, Adarsha is busy right now, so he'll answer as soon as he can.

    Mrs. Andorra: It is not a residential program-it's a seven day course. They have several facilities in south India (all close to each other) where we worked. It does not have definitive start or end dates-it was tailored for us.


  5. Hi Project Jatropha Team,
    I have two kids in DES where you gave a presentation. My son brought the flyer home. Looks very impressive. I think I remember you guys though my kids were very young when you were at DES. Especially the DES Legendary Star Adarsha!

    Now, the brochure is a bit confusing as you have too many things piled on. My question is this. If we are interested in tree planting just in USA then how can we make certain that the funds given only goes to that purpose? I also looked at your web site, blog etc, So, the funds go to Global Call for the youth right? Can you please clarify that for us. And also, it looks like the footwear and cloting collections are tax deductible too? How is that going to work? Can you clarify this. May be make separate flyers for trees and clothing and flip flops.

  6. One more thing . My kid is interested in the Global Youth Call where you are going to plant fruit trees in local area. That sounds great. At this point we are not planning on donating money to Branching out movement where our funds can go to buying clothing though that sounds fascnating. So, how can we make sure of that?

  7. Hi,
    My kid loved your presentation too. But the flier is a bit confusing.
    Now my kid participates in competitive swimming and Karate. We regularly collect clothing by doing cloth drives in both the places and send it to China and Taiwan annually. We are not interested in tax deduction for this. We can't give money though. My daughter can organize the clothing drive and give it to the Branching out section. Are you operating through Sirona cares for this drive? If we have a lot, can we donate directly to Sirona Cares? If we do a massive drive with a lot of clothing then is there a way to send it to Haiti? Can you check with them or We would appreciate if you can have them answer this inquiry?

  8. Your project is cool. As I don't have an account my mom let me use her Id to post my comment. Though I am a middle school student, I have an advice for you guys. The fliers you distributed are very nice but I think you are wasting a lot of paper. I think you should just use emails for your advertisements instead of using paper which is made by cutting down tree as well.
    Cool Kid

  9. Message to all the enthusiastic families of DES with inquiries!:

    This is Apoorva Rangan. I should say that I am very impressed with the response from the Dorris Eaton Community! Thank you all. My other two teammates are away this week end devoting their time to debate and swimming. However, Adarsha told me over the phone that he did read some of the messages that were posted before noon. We have decided to make a detailed blog post by next week addressing all the issues of the inquiry.

    I can guarantee you all this much. We can defenitely channel the funds and resources received as per your wish.If you are interested in donating money towards tree planting in local schools that is where your money will precisely go to. If you want to channel the funds donated to orphanges in Haiti, we will make sure it reaches there. We will consult Sirona Cares and give you the correct answers to your tax related issues. Our blog post will appear soon. Now stay cool and enjoy the rest of your week end.

    And a special thanks to Cool Kid! Great Advice. I agree with you about the paper issue. But,we believe that it is too much to ask you guys to remember our presentation, log on to the internet to show our web site to your parents. The fliers should give a head start as they are self explanatory. However, we will keep your advice in mind!
    ~ Apoorva