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Plant-fuel panacea for all ills - Plan to bring 40,000 hectares of land under jatropha cultivation

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OUR CORRESPONDENT Silchar Published 04.05.06, 12:00 AM

Silchar, May 4: For the Mizoram agriculture department, it seems to be a cure for its multiple woes: a stagnating rural economy, backward agro development and impoverished farmer base. No, it?s not the latest economic mantra, but a sapling growing abundantly in the state.

Jatropha, a bio-diesel plant, has earned the Mizoram government contracts with two leading companies which intend to use plant extracts to produce bio-diesel and other products.

H. Rammawi, minister for agriculture, said, ?Jatropha can be utilised in the cosmetic industry and is also unique in providing an alternative eco-friendly and pollution-free fuel.?

Apart from its use in making soap and being a diesel substitute, jatropha oil can also be used as an antidote to cough, skin diseases and as a pain-reliever.

Samual Rosanglura, director of the horticulture department, said the Mizo National Front (MNF) government has signed separate memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the Godrej Agrovet and London-based multinational D1 Oil Ltd.

While Godrej will mainly concentrate on churning out soap, toiletries and candles using jatropha oil, the London bio-diesel major will use jatropha oil as a substitute for diesel.

In order to ensure that the companies get the optimum amount of the crop, the Mizoram government has envisaged an elaborate jatropha farming plan using 40,000 hectares of land.

Rosanglura said once under way, the jatropha cultivation plan will benefit about 30,000 rural farmers, most of whom were shifting cultivators.

He said his department has also signed a Rs 250-crore contract with Godrej to promote cultivation and processing of the jatropha in the four districts of Aizawl, Kolosib, Mamit and Lunglei.

?This versatile plant with its multiple uses will ensure fast growth of the state?s economy,? said Rosanglura.

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