Cultivation of Jatropha curcas L
In the recent past, bio-diesel derived from plant species has been a major renewable
source of energy. Among various plants Jatropha curcas and Pongamia pinnata have
been chosen as most potential species for varying situations. Between these two species
Jatropha curcas is considered most potential not only to the growers but also to the
processors and end users. To the rural society, the crop can create regular employment
opportunities, as it provides never ending marketing potential.
Due to potential demand and better marketing opportunities, cultivation of Jatropha
appears viable. Jatropha may not replace other important food crops since it is meant for
flood free wastelands and unutilized fallow lands / less productive lands and in turn will
not have a major impact on cropping pattern.
Among the many species, which yield oil as a source of energy in the form of biodiesel,
Jatropha curcas L. has been identified as most suitable oil seed bearing plant due to its
various favourable attributes like hardy nature, short gestation period, adaptability in a
wide range agro-climatic conditions, high oil recovery and quality of oil etc. It can be
planted on degraded lands through Joint Forest Management (JFM), farmer’s field
boundaries, road sides, both sides railway track, fallow lands and as agro forestry crop. It
grows up to a height of 5 m. and can be maintained to a desired height and shape by
trimming and pruning. Planning Commission, Govt. of India has identified two species
for mass production of seeds for biodiesel viz., Jatropha and Pongamia. Jatropha is
suitable for upland while Pongamia found adaptive for both uplands as well as wetland
Among these two species the following differences made Jatropha superior if otherwise
the conditions are not unsuitable for it.
Minimum gestation –only 1 year
Gestation is more-about 6 years
A bushy shrub and by pruning the growing A large tree-block plantation in agricultural
height may be maintained to a practical lands is not preferred. Due to its height
limit for harvesting and other operations
seed collection becomes difficult, not
Processing is comparatively easier due to Due to higher density processing is more
low-density oil, thus liked by processors.
cumbersome comparative to Jatropha oil.
Even without transesterification the oil can Esterification is necessary
be utilized for running static diesel engine
High oil content-upto 40 %
Low oil content –27 – 34 %
Seed yield and oil yield is higher per ha of Seed yield is less comparative to Jatropha
Jatropha is preferred if the condition is free from water stagnation, and upland situation.
For wet condition and river and streamsides where temporary flooding may pause
problem Pongamia should be the choice.
Because of the above advantages the Biodiesel programme has been assumed as Jatropha
programme and ultimately has taken as Jatropha Mission.
Jatropha as a plantation crop offers the following advantages:
• Easy to establish, grows quickly, hardy and require little care.
• It can grow in poor soils, in wastelands except flood prone and waterlogged areas.
Reclamation of wasteland and degraded land is possible through its plantation. In
fertile land it gives higher yields
• Plantation of Jatropha, oil extraction and nursery raising, can be rural based, hence
promoter of rural economy besides ensuring energy security.
• It is suitable for preventing soil erosion including Jhum fallows.
• Jatropha is not a competitor of any crop rather it increases the yield.
• Due to mycorrhizal value in Jatropha roots it helps in getting phosphate from soil
boon for acid soil.
• Improves the soil fertility throughout their life cycle.
• Possesses medicinal as well as other multiple uses.
• Generate net income for 30-35 years @ approx. Rs. 10,000 / ac/year from 4th year.
• Providing local jobs, lessening the need for local villagers to migrate to cities to find
In India, Jatropha curcas is found in almost all the state and is generally grown, as a live
fence for protection of agricultural fields from damage by livestock as cattle or goat does
not eat it.
Due to potential demand and better marketing opportunities, cultivation of Jatropha
appears viable. The crop is suitable particularly for garden land situations yet less
productive, no irrigation facilities. Besides the crop must not replace other important food
crops and in turn will not have a major impact on cropping pattern.
Jatropha adapts well to marginal lands as well as live fence, as farm animals do not
browse it. All parts of the shrub are used in traditional medicine and as raw material for
pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. The use of Jatropha oil in the production of soap
in rural areas gives direct benefit, where as indirectly this will help to save edible
vegetable oil. The large scale cultivation of Jatropha curcas on wastelands with poor
soils and low rainfall in drought prone areas could provide regular employment and could
improve their living conditions by providing additional income. Use of bio-diesel at the
village level for operating oil engines for pumping water and operating small machinery
are another good opportunity, which will be a boon to the farmers.
Jatropha is not an alternative to agriculture or plantation but it is an addition to it.
Scope of Jobs for all
Jatropha is economically viable not only to the growers but also to the processors and end
users. To the rural society, the crop can create regular employment opportunities, as it
provides never ending marketing potential
The crop can easily be raised without any difficulty; the rural women can be engaged in
all kinds of activities like raising seedlings, collection of seeds, de-shelling etc. This will
be a great boon to the development and enhancement of the quality of life of the rural
Jatropha curcas is a tropical shrub native to Mexico and Central America, but is widely
distributed in wild or semi cultivated stands in Latin America, Africa, India and South-
East Asia. In India, Portuguese Navigators introduced it in the 16th century. It occurs in
almost all parts of India including Andaman Island and generally grown as live fence.
The tree is well adapted to arid conditions. It is suitable for sand dune stabilization and
soil conservation areas.
Botanical description of Jatropha curcas
Jatropha derived from the Greek word ‘Jatros’means’Doctor’ and ‘trophe’ means
‘Nutrition’. Botanically this is known as Jatropha curcas L. and belongs to the family
Euphorbiaceae. It is a multipurpose shrub and is found throughout the tropics and is
known by nearly 200 different names, indicating its occurrence in various countries.
Common vernacular names of Jatropha curcas in India are Ratanjyot, Safed arand,
Physic nut, Purging nut, Chandrajyot etc. Jatropha is a deciduous large shrub or small
tree 3-5 m in height with smooth gray bark, which exudes watery and sticky latex, when
cut. The cut branches sprout readily and grow rapidly which makes it suitable for fencing.
The genus is cosmopolitan in distribution except in the arctic region; they are distributed
in the tropical and sub-tropical Himalayas, the mountains of Western and Eastern Ghats
and plains of South India.
The leaves simple, angular, deeply palmately 3-5 lobed with long petiole. Ciliate glands
usually represent the stipules. The venation is palmate. The leaves are green to pale green
broad and glabrous. Phyllotaxy is spiral.
Flower and seed setting
Flowers unisexual, monoeceious, greenish yellow in terminal long, peduncled
paniculate cymes. The central flowers in the cyme or in its forks usually female. Male
flowers- Calyx segments 5, nearly equal, elliptic or obvate; Corolla Campanulate, labes 5,
connate, hairy inside, exceeding the calyx, each lobe bear inside a gland at the base,
stamens 10 in two series, outer five filaments free, inner five filaments connate, anthers
dithecous erect, opening by longitudinal slit. Female flowers- Calyx as in male, corolla
scarcely exceeding the calyx lobes united, villous inside, carpets connate into a 3-celled
ovary, styles 3 connate at base, stigma bifid, ovules solitary in each cell. Pollinationis by
After pollination fruit is usually a three chambered and schizocarpic capsule splitting into
three one-seeded cocci. The exocarp remains fleshy until the seeds mature. It may
produce more than one crop during a year, or produce continuous flowering and fruiting
under irrigated conditions if soil moisture and temperatures are good. Each inflorescence
yields a bunch of ovoid fruits. The seeds albumeneous, tesla crustaceous. It is a diploid
species with 2n=22 chromosomes.
Seeds resemble castor in seed shape, ovoid oblong and black in colour. The seeds become
mature when the capsule changes from green to yellow, after two months of fruit setting.
The nut is a violent purgative. Each fruit bears three seeds. The seeds contain 25-35 %
oil. The oil can be used in soap manufacture.
Soil and climate:
It is a tropical species and grows well in subtropical conditions. It can tolerate extremes
of temperature but not the frost and water stagnation.. It grows almost everywhere- even
on gravely, sandy, acidic and alkaline soils having pH ranging from 5.5 to 8.5. It can
thrive in poorest stony soils. It grows even in the cracks and crevices of rocks on all types
of soil except one subjected to water inundation. If the rising water table engulf the major
root system and continues for a considerable period plant will die. The plant is
undemanding in soil type and even does not require tillage.
Variety: There is no recommended variety for this region yet. However, the variety
grown in NE region is also found productive. The female: male ratio of flower which
indicative of productivity is observed to be 1:12 compared to 1:16 to 1: 20 found in other
states. Fruit setting in NE region is nearly 90-95 %. The occurrence of fungal diseases
due to high humidity and high soil moisture, the newly introduced materials from drier
belts are difficult to establish. However, high yielding types developed elsewhere are also
ideal for cultivation. The plantation can be started with locally available one.
Jatropha is usually propagated on mass scale both by seed as well as stem cuttings. For
commercial cultivation normally it is propagated by seeds. Well-developed plumpy seeds
are selected for sowing. Before sowing, seeds are soaked in cowdung solution for 12
hours and kept under the wet gunny bags for 12 hours. Hot and humid weather is
preferred for good germination of seed. Germinated seeds are sown in poly bags of 15 x
25 cm size filled with soil, sand and farm yard manure in the ratio of 1:1:1 respectively.
Seeds or cuttings can be directly planted in main field. But pre-rooted cuttings in poly
bags and then transplanted in the main field give better results.
For one-hectare plantation about 5 -- 7.5 kg seeds are required. Fruiting starts from 2nd
year if propagated by stem cutting but it takes one year more while raised by seed.
Planting in field
The land should be ploughed once or twice depending upon the nature of soil. In direct
planting system the seed/cuttings should be planted in the main field with onset of
monsoon as a spacing of 3m x 2m. In hilly areas where ploughing is not possible, after
clearing jungles, pits of size 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm is dug at required spacing, refilled
with top soil and organic manures (500 g FYM + 100 g Neem cake or Jatropha oil cake +
100 g super phosphate) and then planted.
Smaller spacing would be preferred if growing the plant as a hedgerow, for a fence, or for
soil conserving purposes. Actual spacing will be determined based on end-use, soil
quality / condition, humidity, rainfall, intercropping, etc. On the side slope of
embankment 2m x 2m is advisable.
Two to three weeding are necessary; it does not require supplementary irrigation if
planted in onset of rain. Jatropha is deciduous in nature and the fallen leaves during
winter months form mulch around the base of the plant. The organic matter from fallen
leaves enhances earthworm activity in the soil around the root zone of the plants, which
improves the fertility of the soil.
Light harrowing is beneficial during early growth stage. Pinching the terminal is essential
at six months age to induce laterals. Application of GA @ 100-PPM spray induces early
flowering and capsule development.
Canopy management (Pruning and trimming)
To give a bushy shape the plant should be trimmed during spring (Feb-March) upto 5
years including one pruning when the plants attains 1.5 m height. The terminal-growing
twig is to be pinched to induce secondary branches. Likewise the secondary and tertiary
branches are to be pinched or pruned at the end of first year to induce a minimum of 25
branches at the end of second year. Once in ten years, the plant may be cut leaving one-
foot height from ground level for rejuvenation. The growth is quick and the plant will
start yielding in about a year period. This will be useful to induce new growth and yield
stabilization there on.
At the time of planting compost @ 2 kg /pit should be applied. Afterwards depending on
soil type manuring @ 3-5 kg/plant along with and NPK should be applied near the crown
following ring method before monsoon.
In general application of super phosphate @ 150kg/ha and alternate with one dose of 20 :
120 : 60 kg NPK/year from second year improves yield. From 4rth year onwards 150 kg
super phosphate should be added to the above dose.
Some shade loving crops like Rouvolfia serpentina, Asparagus racemosus, Kaempferia
galanga, Homalomena aromatica, Tulsi and Smilax china etc and also short duration
pulses like blackgram and vegetables like tomato, bitter gourd, pumpkin, ash gourd,
cucumber can be profitably grown under Jatropha for the first two years. Patchouli –a
shade loving aromatic herb could be a suitable intercrop for Jatropha plantation that gives
first harvest of leaves after 4 months of planting. Vanilla can also be cultivated under it
Collar rot may be the problem in the beginning that can be controlled with 0.2% COC or
by application of 1 % Bordeaux Mixture drenching.
The flowering is induced in rainy season and bears fruits and matures in winter. Pods are
collected when they are turned yellowish and after drying seeds are separated
mechanically or manually. Flowering is less and delayed when grown in shady
conditions. In sunny condition flowering is more and early (July – September). Seedlings
produce flowers 9 months after sowing. However, plants established through cuttings
produce flowers from 6 months onwards. But economic yield starts from 3rd year-end.
The dried pods are collected and seeds are separated either manually or mechanically.
Seeds are dried for 4-5 days to reduce moisture level 10% before packing.
The economic life of Jatropha is 35-40 years. The plant survives upto 50 years if root
zone does not come in contact with rising water table and continues for longer time.
Yield: There will be about 1675 plants /ha at 3m x 2m spacing. Grown up Jatropha from
6th year onwards yield 3-6 kg per plant under good management. The average
productivity can be projected as follows:
Year of planting
Per plant yield
Per hectare yield in kg
1.0– 3.0 kg
4rd year to 6th year
3.0 – 5.0 kg
7th year to 10th year
3.5 - 5.5 kg
Economics of cultivation
Poly bag raised seedlings (10,00,000 seedlings/year)
Assuming 10 % mortality, total number would be: 10 + 1 = 11 lakhs
No. of seeds per kg : 1400 – 1800 Average: 1500
Percentage of seed germination: 40 %
Seed requirement to raise 10 lakhs seedlings:
1 kg seeds gives : 1500 X 0.4 = 600 seedlings
To get 11 lakh seedlings it will require = 11,00,000 = 18.3 q seeds say = 20 q say
600 X 100
(Per hectare seed requirement= 5- 7.50 =average 6 kg)
Cost of seeds = Rs. 65/kg X 20 = 1.30 lakhs
Black poly bags per kg gives approx. 700 Nos
For 11,00,000 =1571 kg or
15.70 q @ Rs. 7000/q=Rs. 1.099 1.10 lakhs
Filling and arranging under shade @ per bag Rs. 0.50 = 5.50 lakhs
Rent of land @ 2000 X1.5 = 0.03 lakh
Fencing all around of 1.5 ha land with one wooden gate = 0.50 lakh
Overhead sprinklers = 0.50 lakhs
Development of water source and Construction of storage tank = 0.50 lakhs
Construction of removal sheds over seedlings = 0.50 lakhs
Construction of Labour sheds = 0.25 lakh
5 skilled labourers @ 2000/month for 12 months= 1.20 lakhs
Decomposed cowdung 20 truck loads ( 100 MT) @ Rs. 1000 = 0.20
Silt & light textured topsoil 150 trucks (1000 MT)
@ Rs. 500/truck = 0.75 lakh
Tools and implements 0.25 lakh
Miscellaneous expenses= 0.15 lakhs
Total Rs. 12.73 Lakhs
Cost of per seedlings = 12.730/10.00 = Rs.1.258 say 1.30/poly bag raised seedling.
Cost of seedlings when raised directly in seedbeds
Seeds sown in raised beds at 15 x 10 cm spacing
Bed size 1.5 m X 50 m with a gap of 0.5 m between two beds
There will be 300 beds or accommodating about 10 lakh seedlings
In beds mortality will be very minimum about 5 % thus the total seedlings
will be = 10.50 Lakhs and land requirement will be = about 1.5 ha
Fencing of the area 1.5 ha = 1.5 ha
Land preparation and bed formation= @ 5000 = 0.09 lakh
Application of decomposed cowdung 30 MT 0.40 lakh
Cost of seeds 20 q x 6500 = 1.30 lakhs
Seeding including gap filling etc= 0..50
Watering through overhead sprinklers drawn from storage tank=1.00 lakh
Weeding, plant protection etc =. 0.20 lakh
Labour cost 5 labourers/ha x 1.5 x 2000/month x 12 months = 1.80 lakh
Miscellaneous expenses 0.21
Total Rs. 5.50 lakhs
Overhead expenses= 1.50 lakhs , Total cost=7.00 lakhs
Cost of per seedlings =7.00/10.00 = Rs. 0.70
Establishment of Seed Orchard
Quality seed production in sufficient quantity is most important for commercial
programme. Jatropha is cross-pollinated crop. Hence a seed orchard, which is a
plantation of genetically superior trees, isolated to reduce cross-pollination and
intensively managed to ensure supply of good quality seed should be established. The
minimum size of the seed orchard should be 2 ha or more. The seed orchard may be
established by clonal propagation (stem cutting or tissue culture plant lets) from
Economics per hectare basis (Rs):
Nos of plants/ha 1670 at 2 M X 3 M spacing
Heads of exp.
5th yr &
Cost of seedlings including 8,000
transport & gap filling @ Rs.
4.00 / seedlings 2000 Nos
Initial land preparation
Digging of pits and refilling
(45 x 30 x 45 cm) @ Rs 3/-
Cost of FYM @ 2-3 kg/pit
Cost of composite fertilizers
(NPK) @ 50-100 gm/pit
Cost of planting & gap filling 3500
immediately after planting
Pruning & trimming
Harvesting & post harvest
Total Rs. 32,000 9,250 10,750 12,750 13,750
Return: Dry seed yield - 1500 2500 5000 6000
Gross return (@ Rs. 8.00/kg) 12000 20,000 40,000 48,000
Net return - 32,000 2,750 9,250 27,250 34,250
Higher productivity and profitability can be achieved by
• Pruning main stem upon 1.5-m growth for profuse branching and higher seed yield.
• Foliar spraying with growth promoters for higher yield of seeds and oil.
• Ensuring maximum exposure to sunlight for enhancing seed yield.
Jatropha plantation should not be taken as highly profitable cash crop if the value of
by-products and other advantages are not considered. Besides, raising of intercrops along
with oil, other potentially high value products such as glycerin and seed cake to make it
more attractive should be effectively marketed and the environmental and socioeconomic
returns such as wasteland reclamation need to be adequately accounted for.
Some immediate problems that may crop up to a farmer’s mind
1. Lack of confidence in farmers due to non-declaration of the biodiesel policy by the
2. Low price of farmers’ produces (seed). The present price Rs.5 /kg of seed that is
being offered by some of the buyers is certainly not attractive for grower.
3. Non-declaration of minimum support price by some competent authority.
4. Non-availability of selling agents or centres of seeds by the farmers.
5. Non-availability of certified seed materials.
6. Non-declaration of incentives / subsidy and other benefits proposed to be provided in
7. Lack of extension services.
8. Non-availability of bankable schemes for plantation / processing.
Suggested measures to be taken immediately
• It is to be taken only on cluster basis and not in isolation.
• Selection of high yielding and high oil content variety and make arrangement s of
large-scale supply of planting materials.
• Development of location specific agro-techniques and providing agronomic support
through contract farming.
• Pilot scale trials should be conducted at different locations to demonstrate economics
of cultivation and updating of location specific production technologies.
• Commercialization of potential byproducts like glycerin, oil cake as organic fertilizer
and pest repellant, blue dye from leaves twigs and barks and explore the possibilities
of taking more inter crops.
• The minimum support price should not be below Rs. 8.00/kg and this should be till
the demand picks up.
• Provide liberal financial support to NGO / Line departments / other organisations for
massive awareness and training campaign.
• Government of India should encourage NGO / Progressive farmers to visit other
countries / states for on the spot studies.
1. Screening and development of strains / varieties high yielding yet tolerant to wet
2. Standardization of spacing for different terrain.
3. Pruning practices for maximum yield
4. Manurial and fertilizer requirement
5. Use of flower enhancing hormones
6. Use Bee hives for higher yield as well as honey production as byproduct.
Best Agronomic practices to increase seed yield
1. Generation of elite planting materials from clonal seed blocks
2. Ensuring high yielding population with optimum plant density
3. Building the plant architecture by pruning
4. Use of plant growth regulants
5. Practicing integrated Nutrient Management (Use of fertilizers, VAM,
Biofertilizers includes Azospyrillum, phosphobacteria, Zn / K mobilizer)
6. Use of Biocontrol agents Viz. Trichoderma / Pseudomonas
7. Manipulation of flowering by irrigation practices
8. Keeping Bee hives
9. Intercropping with seasonal crops to get income during gestation period
Jatropha growing feasibility
Targeted Growing Areas
• Cultivable wastelands / vacant lands / colliery wastelands
• Rainfed lands (low rainfall zone / rainshadow areas)
• Water scarcity areas
• Replacing uneconomical crops
• Hedge plantation
• Railway track
• Jhum fallows in Hilly areas
• Riverside that is not indundated
• To stabilize bunds (Embankments)
• Erosion prone watershed area
Future Thrust Area for yield enhancement
# Systematic varietal improvement & hybridization programme
# Generation of technology for yield enhancement
# Technologies related to value addition of byproducts (oil cake / glycerol)
# Demonstration of technologies through Model Farms / Focused Extension programme
# Mass multiplication of elite plant material through Tissue Culture.
Commercial use of Jatropha plants
As a live fence
Jatropha curcas is a plant of Latin American origin, a drought resistant perennial, living
upto 50 years and growing upto 3-4 m high on marginal soils. It is a close relative of
castor plant; its oil has same medical properties. Jatropha seed contain about 35 % of
non-edible oil. The production of seed is about 0.8 kg /m hedge per year with an oil yield
of 0.171 kg.