The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, has said the Federal Government will grow Jatropha in 20 states as part of the development of bio-fuel to replace fossil fuel.
The minister, who spoke at a dialogue with editors in Abuja, also said the ministry would hold a two-day conference to finetune strategies to produce Jatropha.
She said the project would serve as an alternative to fossil fuel, provide jobs for local communities, and diversify the economy.
“Jatropha has been identified by the Nigerian Bio-fuel Policy and Incentives 2007 as the most preferred non-food plant for bio-fuel feedstock for production in the country. This policy, as well as the NNPC’s Renewable Energy Division, were set out to link the agriculture and energy sectors and promote job creation, technology acquisition and attract foreign investment in the bio-fuel industry.
“The Jatropha Value Chain project is being proposed as a means not only for the successful production of a viable green alternative to fossil fuels, but also of providing an additional means of livelihood for local communities that are losing ground water and vegetation every year due to desertification.’’
She added that the “project will create an avenue for the diversification of the economy through empowering people, taking cumulate action to fight desertification as well as poverty, thus enhancing socio-economic growth across the country.
“This approach will lead to rapid creation of a New Green Economy in the rural areas, thereby creating jobs and wealth from the cultivation of Jatropha and its value chain.
“Ultimately, this will result in the establishment of an African Clean Energy Hub in Nigeria. Jatropha also has potential to impact on five key elements of the COP 21 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.”
Mohammed said the project would be spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Environment with the support of the state and relevant MDAs and integrated into the afforestation programmes of the ministry.
“The conference will target policy makers and regulatory bodies in the renewable energy sector, state and local governments, farmers’ associations, private sectors, investors, international development partners, research and higher institutions and civil society organisations.”
The conference is expected to come up with key issues of policy setting and regulatory framework, stakeholder engagement, research, production, marketing and financing mechanisms for the production of Jatropha in the country.