The National, Thursday January 14th, 2016
By GEDION TIMOTHY LAPAN
WITH more than one million hectors of arable land in the two Sepik provinces, government leaders should plant jatropha instead of the “environmentally unfriendly” oil palm, engineer Thompson Benguma says.
Benguma, a former employee of the Morobe provincial government and now an advocate of the use of bio-fuel, told The National that instead of planting palm oil in the Sepik plains, jatropha should be used.
He said the global demand was one million metric tons of jatropha oil per month which equated to K4 billion to K6 billion.
He said jatropha was a small plant and the oil extracted from its seed could be used as bio-fuel.
“Jatropha oil is a third generation biofuel oil that has superior fuel grade qualities compared to fossil, hence can be used to produce biodiesel or biojet fuel,” Benguma told The National.
He said Jatropha oil could also be used as fuel in generators or for land and sea transport.
He said the two Sepik provinces had a large portion of land covered with Savannah or kunai grass totalling more one million hectares which could be used to cultivate Jatropha and intercropped with other agricultural produce such as rice and peanut.
“The economic potential of growing jatropha is huge.
‘There is an order for one million metric tonnes of Jatropha oil per month which translate to K4b to K6b,” he said.
“Compare this with LNG (liquefied natural gas.
“This is a project our politicians should be running for. Not oil palm that will cause environment disaster.”
Benguma said “we can produce all the diesel fuel requirements for Papua New Guinea thus preventing our money from going out of the country through fossil fuel imports”.
“We can also produce biojet fuel for the aviation sector, making air travel cheaper because the use of Jatropha biojet fuel will drastically reduce fuel and maintenance costs.”