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An alternative to fossil fuel
     
Monday, May 9, 2005 - The Hindu.

An ambitious contract cultivation programme, 'Jatropha Curcas,' was launched here on Sunday, marking the beginning of large-scale cultivation of the bio-diesel crop that is emerging as a viable alternative to the fossil fuel, whose resources are fast depleting.

Mark Quinn, managing director of the
U.K.-based D1 Oils, with the managing director of Labland Biotechs, Sudheer Shetty, at the launch of the contract farming programme for jatropha crop in Mysore on Sunday

Mark Quinn, managing director of the U.K.-based bio-diesel supplier D1 Oils, which has firmed up a long-term contract with Labland Biotechs, Mysore, for procurement of 10,000 to 50,000 tonnes of jatropha oil a year, handed over the first plant of Jatropha Curcas to a grower in the city.

The contract farming programme seeks to bring 1.25 lakh acres in the State under jatropha cultivation in the next five years.

D1 Oils, a global leader in the field of bio-diesel, refines the jatropha oil and supplies it as bio-diesel to European countries. Where it is blended with fossil fuel in keeping with the eco-friendly ceiling on emission levels in automobiles.

Labland Biotechs, a bio-technology company established in Mysore, will distribute elite clones of jatropha to farmers and purchase back the quality seeds obtained from these plants.

The seeds are used for extracting jatropha oil.

Mr.Quinn said Mysore, which enjoys a pride of place in the history of the land, is all set to embark on another "historic" venture in the production of jatropha-derived bio-diesel that enjoys a world-wide market. Jatropha crops can be grown on wasteland as it requires a minimal amount of water. Even though Labland Biotech is offering Rs.4,500 for every tonne of crude oil extracted from jatropha seeds. Mr.Quinn sought to downplay the remuneration farmers can expect by growing the crop. "It is paying only if it is grown as a value addition crop alongside other crops," he said. The managing director of Labland Biotechs. Sudheer Shetty, said their company already has an estimated 16,000 acres of land in different parts of the State under jatropha cultivation.

Labland Biotechs, which has entered into a deal with D1 Oils for supply of tissue culture derived jatropha plants for global distribution, has envisaged the involvement of educational institutions at taluk level for the successful operations of the entire programme.

Under the novel techno-commercial venture, Labland will sign a MoU with recognised educational institutions for setting up a Jatropha Information Dissemination Centre (JIDC) in each taluk. The educational institutions will depute personnel to Labland Biotechs for training in cultivation and maintenance of jatropha.

The trained personnel of the institutions will in turn prepare a team of enthusiastic students to impart training to farmers at various phases in the cultivationa and maintenance of jatropha at the field level. On the occasion, Labland Biotechs signed a MoU with Hoovaiah Gowda, Principal of Sahyadri Science College, Shimoga.

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