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General News
Lands Commission cannot grant one million hectares for bio-diesel 1/23/2007
Accra, Jan 22, GNA - The National Lands Commission on Monday said it was not in a position to grant one million hectares of land for the cultivation of Jatropha plant for the production of Bio-diesel.

Alhaji Hamidu Ibrahim Baryeh, the Executive Secretary, Lands Commission, said there was the need to study soils that had been put under cultivation to determine the soil fertility after a period of cultivation before undertaking such a venture.

This, he noted, was to ensure that farmers did not put their lands under the cultivation of Jatropha at the expense of food and other cash crops because of loss of land fertility in the long run.

Alhaji Baryeh, who was speaking to the GNA in an interview, said there was the need for further research on the plant and therefore called on the proponents for its cultivation on a large scale to seek approval from the Crops and Soil Research Institute, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency before embarking on the large scale cultivation.

He said, "Should the country see the need to embark on commercial cultivation of the plant, there must be enough information about all possible dangers associated with the crop".

The Executive Secretary said contrary to the view of the proponents, expert advice indicated that the crop did well on marginal lands. He therefore advocated that the cultivation of the plant be limited to marginal lands.

"Where large expanse of unproductive lands are available especially in some parts of the transitional and Guinea Savannah ecologies, its large-scale production should be acceptable," he said, but added that communities interested in the cultivation of the plant should be guided in the selection of degraded lands for cultivation.

"Since the plant is already well known and cultivated in the country, sensitisation could be done by the district assemblies and farmers organizations," he said.

Alhaji Baryeh said the Commission was also concerned about the fact that Ghana''s consumption would constitute only 10 per cent of the total production when the project became fully operational whilst the remaining 90 per cent would be exported.

"Initial production should therefore be limited to at most 50 per cent of the land requirement of one million hectares in order to determine the full effects of the cultivation of the plant and the production of the bio-diesel," he said.

Mr Onua Amoa and some investors, after the discovery of the potential for the conversion of Jatropha plant also known as the Physic Nut into bio-diesel, had contacted the Lands Commission to solicit assistance in acquiring vast parcels of land for the project. The proponents indicated that they needed a minimum of 1,100,000 hectares of land to put under cultivation in order to feed the bio-diesel plant economically.

Research has showed that the Jatropha plant is a small tree or large shrub, which grows up to a height of 6 metres. Like many other Jatropha species, the physic nut is a succulent plant that sheds its leaves during the dry season.

It is best adapted to arid and semi arid conditions and it is drought resistant. It grows on well-drained soils with good aeration. The plant is well adapted to marginal soils with low nutrient content, low rainfall where it grows without competing with annual food crops and has a productive life span of 40 to 50 years. 21 Jan 07Source:
GNA



 
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