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Commencement of Jatropha cultivation destined to the production of vegetable oil for the production

Why grow Jatropha in Ghana?

Because Jatropha is a toxic plant and is not, therefore, designed for food use. However, its growth allows the production of vegetable oil, from which clean energy can be produced without resorting to deforestation as in some other countries where irreparable damage is done to the ecosystem. On the contrary, it allows for the valorisation of poor and uncultivated territories, making them fruitful.

It is, in fact, possible to plant this species in areas otherwise not available for agricultural purpose,since this plant can develop in sandy areas and where the rain is poor.

For these reasons, three Italian companies active in the field of environmental policy have decided to join their efforts and to start “Project Jatropha” in Ghana.

In reality, there are two companies, s.r.l. and Ecoil s.r.l., and a consortium, Conapi, made up of more than 20 national companies. This group has established a partnership with SGR-Ghanoil Ltd. in Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

This project is fully supported by the Government of Ghana and by newly elected President Ata Mills, who, last February, requested a meeting with the Italian entrepreneurs. The project is based on the use of 8.093 hectares of land in the area of Kuhaw Tafu, obtained through a 50 year grant.

The deliberation of the grant saw the full involvement of local representatives aided by government authorities, and will be signed by the end of the summer in the presence of the King of that territory. The territory is divided into 8 plots, each measuring 1.000 hectares, and one plot measuring 93hq to be used for the oil pressing and production plant and for the Headquarters of this project.

Each 1.000 hectares plot will be autonomous and will consist of: farm, fruit cleaning area, and lodgings for employees, tractors and equipment for maintenance and harvesting.

In order for the land to be usable for these purposes the following steps are necessary:

* Creation of a breeding ground;
* Cleaning of the land to be used;
* Fertilization with compost;
* Planting of the seedlings taken from the breeding ground;
* First harvest 7/8 months after tree planting.

Full production capacity (achieved gradually in 5 years) is 2,1 tons per year per hectares, with a production of 4 tons per year hectares of vegetable biomass.

The resulting biomass from the oil production will be used partly for the production of electricity, which will be distributed for local use, and partly for the production of compost for agricultural use. The project foresees the employment of 2400 workers, and is based on the constitution of cooperatives and/or associations between locals for the management of individual plots.

Part of the management consortium’s profit will be used for research into innovative forms of energy production through the use of eco-sustainable sources (algae and production of oil from paper) and for local activities of social interest.
The advantages of the initiative described above are evident, of which the most important are:

* Development of an initiative of great interest also for the local population through the valorisation of pre-existing plantations in the first phase and through the use of land which would have otherwise remained unproductive in the second one.
* Increase in local employment with advantages for the local population
* Future use of an energy source derived from the agricultural cycle, but which is not destined for food production
* Guaranteed supply of the vegetable oil, eliminating non-objective market fluctuations
* Small producers are also able to benefit from economies of scale
Project dimensions are not intrusive and are consistent with the local reality
* Total volume of oil production allows for advantageous means of transport and logistics (for example transport directly in the hold of the ship)
* Creation of an eco-sustainable system capable of managing the whole agro-energetic weaving factory and of being profitable, thanks to the advantages of the network and to the integration of the phases of the weaving factory






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