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Kingdom’s biodiesel plans on hold as jatropha disappears

Kingdom’s biodiesel plans on hold as jatropha disappears

NTC Jacam Energy has halted plans to produce biodiesel because of a lack of raw materials, particularly jatropha, according to the firm’s chairman.

The firm had planned to more than triple its production to 2,000 litres of biodiesel per day earlier this year, but a lack of jatropha on the local marketplace had forced the company to stop, Chheuy Sophors said.

“We suspended our biofuel production due to a lack of raw materials. Some

farmers who used to grow this crop have stopped,” he said.

The firm had invested US$400,000 to build the biodiesel plant in Kampong Speu province.

It had previously purchased jatropha seeds from farmers in Kampong Speu, Battambang, and Banteay Meanchey provices at a processing cost of between 600 and 800 riel per kilogram.

Jatropha is a quick-growing tropical plant. Its seeds can be crushed to process biodiesel, which could fetch some 3,200 riel per litre, the firm said.

NTC Jacam Energy had recently spent $50,000 to grow jatropha on 500 hectares in Kampong Speu and Koh Kong province, which could provide the future materials required for production, according to Chheuy Sophors.

“We hope the company will receive about 3,000 tonnes of seeds per year with this project so we can produce biofuel in the future,” he said.

Producing 1 kilogram of biodiesel required three times the amount of unprocessed jatropha seed, he said. It would require 6 tonnes of seed per day to meet its original production goal of 2,000 litres.

Chhe Pich, deputy chief of Kampong Speu Provincial Office of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery said yesterday farmers in Aural and Samraong districts had formerly grown plenty of jatropha, but poor yields had forced many to change to other crops. A United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation report issued earlier this year claimed the crop has the potential to produce a large amount of energy, compared to the area required to grow it.

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