Botswana: Bio diesel fuel projects gain momentum



In support of the bio diesel fuel project in Botswana, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) donated equipment worth an estimated P2 million.

The research project was carried out in April 2011 to reduce carbon emissions by setting up a 50 million-litre per year bio-diesel processing plant. It will be fed from Jatropha oil seed.Speaking at the handover ceremony, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Boikobo Paya, said this project will help to reduce the dependency on imports and the shortage of petroleum in the country."We are looking at this project with much anticipation, especially since at times we experience petroleum products supply challenges and we are entirely dependent on imports," he said.

Paya explained that the research project is a step forward in the area of scientific research for Botswana.He said:"It is critical for Botswana because, if successful, the production of biodiesel from Jatropha will reduce the import bill of petroleum products and also contribute improved security of supply of energy while contributing to the economy by creating more job opportunities. The project is expected to deliver the desired outputs that will benefit this country.

The project started in Botswana in 2012 and will last for five years.The Jatropha project is advanced in Mozambique where Japan donated equipment while two farms have been identified for it with three students already selected to carry out the experiment of extracting fuel from Jatropha seeds."The equipment received from JICA includes a portable Photosynthesis and Fluorescence System, a Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis machine (DGGE), and Weather Station.

In a brief on the project, Professor Stephen Chite, Agricultural Research Officer, said Jatropha plants were planted in April 2012 and they are growing well, despite the cold winter season. He explained that the tree requires a minimum rainfall of 600mm to flower and  produce fruits. He further explained that it is affected by frost found in winter conditions."Botswana's temperatures range from zero to 40 degrees celcius.The Jatropha tree requires a temperature range of 20 to 30 degrees celcius. This is the challenge we have to address," Chite explained.

He further said they expect the tree to start flowering in three years and will bear fruit for 25 years.Chite said to address the challenges, they are conducting research to get genetical transplants from watermelon in Botswana to control the weather conditions.He said: "If the plants survive, we'll have genetical transplants from watermelon in Botswana. We are collaborating with Japan Universities to carry out these tests."


SOURCE: Monday, 12 August 2013  |  Issue: Vol.14 No.28