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Noting the importance of biofuels in the changing agricultural landscape, the Omnia group has made an investment of some R29-million into research on jatropha agronomics in Zambia.
Jatropha has been widely regarded as the â€˜next-best-thing' for biodiesel production as it is resistant to drought and pests, and produces seeds containing up to about 40% oil.
Omnia CEO Humphris states that there was a fertiliser spin-off. "...if jatropha becomes a bigger crop in the southern African region, we would be well-placed to really understand the nutrients required for that and then, obviously there is the fertiliser sale which we would be able to achieve in improving the jatropha economics."
Omnia would continue to spend the necessary capital on research in this field on an ongoing basis.
The research was being conducted in Zambia for a number of reasons, and largely because it could not be done in South Africa, as the South African government has declared jatropha an invasive plant.
"The one advantage that Zambia has, being a land-locked country, [is that] import parity of fuel into Zambia certainly is more expensive than here in South Africa, and I think the driving force there to establish biofuel production is higher in Zambia than what it would be in South Africa," said Humphris.
Full story at Engineering News online
Additional information: Omnia web site
News date: 18/06/2008