Enhancing Jatropha curcas (Linnaeus) Cultivation and Seed Yield among Farmers in Nigeria: A Review
Jatropha curcas yields substantial quantity of seed oil and is growing in importance as a source of biodiesel. In Nigeria, the plant has traditionally been grown as live fences and hedge plants around homesteads and gardens to screen off unwanted sites or protect crops against roaming animals. Traditionally, growers are not so much concerned with selection, production, dissemination, and access to improved seeds. With increasing interest in renewable energy around the world, it has become necessary for breeders to, in the first instance, identify and characterize the available germplasm in Nigeria. Subsequently, there is need for appropriate production practices relative to the different ecological zones in order to greatly expand cultivation. During studies at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri in Nigeria, no major pests and diseases were observed. While 90 % of the seeds emerged at not more than 6 days after planting, 40 % of the seeds raised without shade emerged at 4 days after planting whereas only 20 % of those raised under shade emerged at the same time. Seed treatment resulted in less than 30% emergence and treated seeds that emerged were stunted and had scotched leaves. Multiplication by cuttings was generally faster than by seed although lodging was a problem. Cuttings measuring 60 and 90 cm performed better compared with 30 and 120 cm cuttings. Cuttings made from the semi-hard wood part of the stem produced shoots and rooted faster than those obtained from the apical and the basal points.
Keywords: Jatropha curcas, cuttings, seed oil, biofuel, emergence, shading, breeding.