Article originally written by Keshab Kumar Budathoki B.Sc Ag (TU)
Botanical name: Jatropha curcas
Origin: it is originated from tropical America most likely to Mexico and Central America.
Morphology of the jatropha:
It is a small tree or shrub with smooth gray bark and normally grows between 3 to 5 meter depending upon the nutrient content of the soil.
- Leaves :
It has green to pale green leaves, leaves are alternate to sub opposite. Three to five lobes are found on leaves.
Flowers are formed terminally and individually in the leaf axils. Female flowers slightly larger and occurs in the hot seasons.
- Fruits :
Fruits are produced during winter when the shrubs are leafless. Fruiting can occurs many times in a year when the soil moisture is available sufficiently. Each inflorescence produces bunch of the fruits containing the 10 or more fruits. The fruit color in initial stage is green in color in matured stage it becomes yellow in dried in over ripening condition it becomes black or brownish colors.
Seed are black in colors and at the tip white marking is appears. There is cavity inside the fruit where seed located.
Uses of the jatropha:
Some traditional and cultural uses:
- In some countries ,like Nepal at the time when there was no any facilities of the electricity in rural area people used to extracting the seed from the fruit of the jatropha for using as the source of the light.
- Children use the latex produced from the leaf petiole for bubbling.
- In rural area people use the stem of jatropha for brushing .
Jatropha plant can be use as hedge and wind breaker plant:
Jatropha can be plant in the border of the crop fields.
It prevents the crops from the animals .In extreme environmental condition like hot season it provides the shade, and in it prevents crop from lodging due to the high wind velocity by blocking the wind.
Jatropha leaf is the good source of the organic matter. Jatropha leaf can be utilized to prepare the good compost. In village area of the Nepal the jatropha use to cover the seed bed before sowing the seed in the bed. It is the environmentally friendly and cheapest source of the fertilizer.
Controls the soil erosion:
By planting the jatropha plant in sloppy land soil erosion can be controlled.
Jatropha uses are rather limited. Most part of the parts of the plant is toxic to eat due to the latex sap. But it is used as a medicinal. It is useful in treating the snakebite, paralysis, dropsy and apparently some cancer .The latex contains the wax, resin and tannin, which are useful in treating the gum bleeding. It is also heals the wounds, toothache. It can also act as the antibacterial strong antimicrobial agent. The root is also good for treating the skin diseases such as eczema scabies ringworm.
Source of the biodiesel:
With the speed of the time demand of oil is increasing. There are limited sources of the energy in world. It is necessary to search the alternative source of the energy one of them biodiesel can be the best option. The biodiesel can be obtained from the jatropha seeds.
Cultivation practices of the jatropha:
Jatropha crops can be grown in wider range of the soil including wastelands, poor soils, low rainfall and drought areas.
Propagating materials and planting
Seed and stem cutting is used. If the crop is planned for commercial purpose, seed propagation is recommended. Good quality of the seed should be select. Seed should be treated in cow dung solution for 12-12 hours and kept under the wet gunny bags for the 10-12 hours. Hot and humid climate is requires for the germination of the seed. The germinated seed are sown in poly bags of the (15×25) cm size filled with sand soil well decomposed farm yard manure in the ratio of the 1:1:1. Actually seed or cutting stem can be plant in main field directly. Pre-rooted stem and seedling gives the best result.
It depends up on the variety of soil and climatic condition. But generally seed rate is 6-7 kg /ha.
2-3 deep ploughings depending up on the soil type is required. If he ploughing is not possible pit of size 30×30×30 cm should dig. The pit is filled with organic manures 500 grams, neem cake 500 gm, and super phosphate 100 gram.
If the plants are grown for the hedgerow for a fence 3*2 meter is required. For soil erosion control lesser spacing is preferred.
Irrigation in jatropha:
These plants don’t require the much irrigation and will survive in the minimal rain fall areas. These don’t requires supplementary irrigation if planted in the onset of the monsoon. Natural mulch (fallen leaves) provides the moisture.
Manures and fertilizer in the jatropha :
20: 120: 60 kg NPK/ ha application method ring method by making the ring around the trunk of the plant and covered with the soil.
Training and pruning:
Training pruning is depends up on the purpose of the owner. Generally training pruning is done during spring season up to 4 years to make the development of the secondary branches. Old diseases infested part should remove.
Harvesting in jatropha :
Generally jatropha trees starts producing the flowers after 9-12 month of the sowing by seed and 6 months for the stem planting. Usually flowers are induced in the in rainy season and bear fruits and mature in winter. Pods should be collected when they turn yellow color and dried.
Reference : www.Agrifarming.in jatropha cultivation