Encourage Jatropha as cash crop in NE
Itanagar, Mar 31: Arunachal Pradesh Rural Development Minister Tanga Byaling has urged the central government to take up commercial cultivation of Jatropha curcas, the plant from which bio-diesel can be extracted, in the North Eastern region.
In a letter to Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Mr Byaling said the region has been bestowed with diverse agro-climatic zones making it a storehouse of rich flora and fauna.
Various cash crops and medicinal plants could be cultivated with minimum effort. As the Centre had constituted a committee to study the feasibility of bio-diesel production with Rural Development as the nodal ministry, he urged the minister to encourage the cultivation of Jatropha curcas, which could help set up rural-based, labour-intensive, low cost agro-based industry to generate employment and improve rural the economy of the poor region. Jatropha is a wild plant available in almost all North Eastern states and is generally grown as a fence to protect fields from cattle as they do not eat them.
It is a small tree or a shrub with smooth gray bark which exudes a whitish sap. It can grow anywhere, including sandy, saline or stone soil.
Its water requirement is extremely low and it thrives for long period of drought by shedding most of its leaves to reduce transpiration loss. Jatropha also helps in preventing soil erosion.
It can be easily propagated on massive scale by direct seeding as well as planting stem cutting.
It keeps yielding upto 30-40 years. It is a crop of tropical and sub-tropical region from which oil is extracted by hydraulic press method after grinding and steaming of the seed. In the event of necessary funding by the central government and proper strategic policy and priority by the state government in this sector, Arunachal could emerge as the major exporter of this bio-diesel in the country and extending the economic boom of the state in the process, Mr Byaling said.