By Mailesi Banda
SMALL-SCALE farmers are expected to benefit from the growing of oil crops once the Bio Fuel Association of Zambia discovers high value oil crops that can perform better on Zambian soil.
Bio Fuel Association of Zambia chairperson, Thompson Sinkala said they were carrying out tests of the potential of the moringa for bio fuel production though the crop had proven to be expensive to grow for bio fuel purposes.
Mr Sinkala said there were plans to test olive oil as a potential oil producing plant and others which when competed would help them advise what the most cost effective oil crop for the Zambian terrain was.
“We have plans to work with small-scale farmers in the growing of oil crops, but we want to go for high value oil crops for our farmers to benefit and also for us as producers to make more money,” Mr Sinkala said.
He explained that the association had interest in a variety of oil crops and that they were currently focusing on the Jathropha and the moringa plants, adding that there were plans in the near future to get into the growing of other crops and we will consider getting into the production of the crop
“After doing tests on the Jathropha we started with the moringa and we only did three quarters of a hectare and we have not followed up because there is no manpower. We wanted to take up the plant for the production of bio fuel but it has proven to be a very expensive oil plant,” he said. Mr Sinkala said they would resume production at the plantation and concentrate on growing the trees for pharmaceutical purposes which was more rewarding.
He disclosed that a pilot project was underway in which they would use Jathropha to power boilers in factories.