Raipur — President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Tuesday discussed the intricacies of growing jatropha, an important source of bio-fuel, with farmers in Chhattisgarh and said India plans to produce 60 million tonnes per annum of bio-fuel by 2030.
In a 25-minute interaction with jatropha-growing farmers in Sundarkera village, located on the outskirts of state capital Raipur, Kalam said this alternative fuel source could transform India’s oil scenario.
Speaking to the farmers cultivating jatropha at mass level, he said: “Jatropha is a vital tree for bio-diesel. Farmers should use only the high oil-content quality saplings and they must do trimming at the right time in the first year to split the tree in at least 60 branches so that a single tree can produce 400 grams of seeds in a year.”
Wishing good luck to the farmers to bring in a bio-diesel revolution in the country, Kalam said: “With limited research so far in the bio-diesel sector in the country, India aims to produce 6 million tonnes (MT) annually of bio-diesel by 2010 and 60 MT by 2030.”
He said the government and private sector majors should accelerate research in bio-fuel sector as well as the related aspects of production, marketing and processing.
“In other states, the oil content in jatropha seeds is below 25 percent but in Chhattisgarh the oil content percentage is over 30,” Kalam said in response to a query raised by a farmer. He advised them to use “only high oil content quality seeds and proper irrigation can further increase oil yields”.
The president said that government would take care of the financial aspects of jatropha growers, including proper marketing and aid in jatropha irrigation.
Chief Minister Raman Singh announced immediately that he would provide 75 percent subsidy to farmers for jatropha irrigation through drip and sprinkler system.
The Chhattisgarh government claims that bio-fuel rich plants like jatropha and karanj have the potential to help India get over its annual requirement of 124 million metric tonnes of petroleum products, of which around 72 percent is met through imports at a cost of over Rs.1.5 trillion.
It has announced plans to plant 160 million saplings across the state in the current fiscal. It proposes to run all state-owned vehicles with jatropha fuel instead of imported diesel by 2007.
The government is providing 500 jatropha saplings free of cost to any farmer interested in taking up its cultivation and there will be a token charge of 50 paise per plant for every extra sapling.
Kalam, who arrived in Raipur Monday night, will leave for New Delhi in the evening after attending a concluding week-long function of the state’s sixth foundation anniversary here as chief guest.