Tjivikua looks at biofuel research in India

Home International Tjivikua looks at biofuel research in India

BANGALORE, India – While visiting the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, the rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, soon to be renamed the Namibian University of Science and Technology, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, said Namibian farmers should be properly trained on the benefits of growing crops for the production of biofuel. 

During an official visit to the Biofuel Park, which is part of the Indian university on the outskirts of Bangalore, which was established to encompass all biofuel research and activities, Tjivikua added that Namibia is still at the experimental stage of producing biofuel as a sustainable crop option and that farmers need to calculate the economies involved in producing biofuels. This he said, is particularly true for the Kavango East and Kavango West regions where logistics play a major role in determining the viability of biofuels as a sustainable and profitable crop. The world’s depleting fossil fuel reserves and heightened environmental concerns, coupled with escalating prices of petroleum products, have brought about the search for alternate and eco-friendly options such as biofuel. Efforts are also being made all over the world to raise awareness about biofuels and communities and farmers are encouraged to consider the cultivation of biofuel crops in waste lands as a subsidiary source of income. Biogas from agricultural waste is also being used as a cost effective option to generate electricity.

In India the land is rich in vegetation with diverse tree species of which about 150 possess suitable oil for biofuel production. Apart from these  species, bio-ethanol can also be generated out of sweet sorghum, sugarcane, maize and beet root to mention a few. What piqued Dr Tjivikua’s interest were the specific species the Indian researchers were using, which yielded up to 80 percent oil, compared to only between 20 to 30 percent yielded by some of the species being experimented with in Namibia. During the last five years the Biofuel Park has been successful in executing most of its set objectives in creating awareness, conducting training programmes, setting up nurseries, planting, conducting research activities in identifying elite varieties, standardizing protocols and methods for biofuel production from various oils and many more.

The park has also been instrumental in the establishment of farmers’ associations to collect and process seeds for extracting oil to be used as biofuel. The Biofuel Park has planted more than 16 000 acres of land in the vicinity of the research facility. About 70 nearby villages have been named a ‘complete biofuel village’ where each and every household has plated at least one biofuel tree.

This is considered one of the landmark achievements of the Biofuel Park.


By Edgar Brandt