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2009 March 03

Digging for green gold in Ghana

Ghana has a very favourable climate for growing plants for renewable fuels. Several international companies are attracted by this fact and are now investing in jatropha and sugarcane plantations. These plantations will soon be vitally important to Ghana.

Jatropha Africa Ltd is a subsidiary of Lion Bridge Ventures in the United Kingdom, committed to the creation and expansion of biofuels plantations throughout the developing world. Our model creates a locally sustainable economy with high numbers of agricultural jobs, grid electricity, transportation fuel in the form of local biodiesel and the ability to participate in the world economy through export of renewable and biodiesel feedstock. Our goal is to achieve 3.79 million litres per year of feedstock by 2015. Our commercial activities include growing seedlings, contract planting, harvesting, and selling oil seed as feedstock to biodiesel companies and farmers. We are committed to working in partnership with rural African communities and assisting people in their efforts to improve their own lives.

Organic crop

The project allows jatropha to be used for biodiesel or as a feedstock for renewable diesel, while the meat of the plant can then be used to create grid electricity and/or ethanol. It can provide up to three harvests per year and produces four- to seven-times as much oil per acre as soybeans. Jatropha is also completely organic in its development cycle with great opportunities’ to increase its yield through fertilizer, irrigation and research. It also requires a human harvest model and creates a high number of jobs.

Fair trade

Jatropha Africa is working with other organisations to develop a strategy for improving the flow of information on best practices in rural finance and relevant training materials to those who have most need of access to this information. We are keen to promote fair trade and to provide the people of Aduamoah with a platform to enable them to sell their product directly to the world market. Tiger nut (Cyperus Esculentus) is an important crop for the people of Aduamoah in the Kwahu South District of Ghana. It contributes to household subsistence and incomes.

Facts about Jatropha Africa

Jatropha Africa Ltd. is soliciting approximately USD 65 million for the development of available land, support equipment, a crushing plant, local biodiesel plant, generators, onwater logistics and other operational costs until cash flows are self-sustaining in approximately three years. From year four and through subsequent years revenue is projected to be USD 97 million with exceptional profitability.

Development of Jatropha around the world

Asia: Jatropha has a strategic role for many governments in Asia. India uses several incentive schemes to induce villagers to rehabilitate waste lands through the cultivation of oil bearing trees such as jatropha. In China, the national oil companies are the dominant players in jatropha project development. Myanmar is also pursuing a rigid national plan for jatropha expansion.

Africa: The governments in Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia and (in particular) Zimbabwe have formulated policies which explicitly focus on the promotion of jatropha. Other countries, including Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya, actively promote investments in renewable energies or facilitate land access for interested investors.

Latin America: Specific targets or programmes on jatropha have been developed by the Mexican and the Colombian government, among others. There are also high hopes that the Brazilian government will include jatropha in its social biofuel programme. This would have a great impact on project development in Brazil and the overall dynamics of the jatropha industry in Latin America.

References: Gexsi, Global Market Study on jatropha,London/Berlin:2008

Ohene K. Akoto is Country Director for Jatropha Africa. He can be reached at:


• FACTS ABOUT GHANA Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, won its independence in 1957, and has had a democratic government ever since. Ghana is located on West Africa s Gulf of Guinea, only a few de grees north of the Equator. It has an area of approximately 24 million hectares, with around 22 million inhabitants concentra ted along the coast and in the principal cities. The capital city is Accra, with an es timated population of 3 million. Ghana s tropical climate features plains, scrubland, rainforest and savanna. About 70 per cent of the land is arable and forested. Ghana has many natural resources, in cluding gold, timber, diamonds, bauxite, manganese and fish. Its major industries consist of mining, lumber, fishing, alumi num and tourism.