Jatropha Tree Planting
Jatropha has been known since ancient times when extracts from its leaves and seeds were used as medicine. Jatropha''s antiseptic qualities derive from curcin, present in the plant's shoots and leaves, but ingesting in large quantities can be poisonous. Jatropha is thought to have originated in South America. It is widely believed that the Portuguese transported the plant to Africa and India in the 16th century.
Today, rural communities throughout Africa are being encouraged by their governments to grow Jatropha to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This perennial plant has diverse uses that will improve agricultural practices in Zimbabwe and throughout Africa for years to come.
In 2005 the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation funded an ASAP Jatropha tree planting project. The project included mapping existing Jatropha plantations in the Nyanga District as well as planting trees. An oil press was provided and placed at the Munyaradzi Home Based Care Center in Eastern Zimbabwe. The income generated from pressing oils continues to support families caring for orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS.There are many advantages to growing Jatropha
- Fast growing
- Drought resistant
- Grow easily in marginal soil
- Reduce soil erosion
- Provides natural fencing that discourages grazing livestock
- The seed cake remaining after oil extraction produce a high-grade organic fertilizer comparable to chicken manure
- Soap making
- Lantern oil
The following chart illustrates the many other uses of Jatropha trees.