President Yoweri Museveni has welcomed a Malaysia-based group of investors who have expressed interest in introducing a new cash crop in Uganda known as ‘Jatropha’ saying that the crop will promote government plan of enhancing the middle-income status among Ugandans.
The President was speaking in a meeting with investors from Malaysia Felda Scheme Model Group who called on him yesterday at State House, Entebbe, led by Mr. Geoffrey Onegi Obel, Executive Chairman of Bionas East Africa Group Ltd.
Jatropha, a flowering plant whose seeds are very rich in oil (40%), does well in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Crude oil from its seeds can be refined into biodiesel for the diesel fuel requirements in generators and engines.
President Museveni observed that as Jatropha plant is a low value crop like tobacco, cotton, and sugarcane and requires large-scale cultivation to yield good profits, farmers who have small land holdings should not venture into its growing.
“Farmers with two to four acres of land can only go for coffee and fruits’ growing because their yield is high when it comes to income generation. You are, therefore, advised to target individuals with who have big land holdings for the project to take off in a short period,” he told the Malaysian investors.
The Vice-President and Chief Executive of Bionas East Africa Group, Ms Adnan Ali Adikata, revealed that in five years’ time the project will be operational and that its refinery would be able to produce 60,000 barrel of oil per day.
She said that so far, large land holdings have been identified in the districts of Koboko, Yumbe and Isingiro where the project could start.
According to the objectives of the Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) Jatropha crop growing is set to roll out a scientific and economic response whereby it can be intercropped with food crops like cashew nuts, among others.