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Jojoba can rescue Rajasthan's lands, hike industrial output 

Ashok B Sharma  
Dhand, Nov 20 : The arid lands of Rajasthan are all set to usher in a revolution in Indian agriculture, with planned large-scale cultivation of the exotic jojoba plant (Simmondsia Chinensis) known for its high-value industrial utility.

The Association of the Rajasthan Jojoba Plantation and Research Project (AJROP) has already received bulk export orders from Guestav Heess Co of Germany for the supply of jojoba oil. The global price for the supply of high-quality jojoba oil in small packs is around $90 per kg, while for bulk supplies the prices range between $13 to $40 per kg for different grades of oil. AJROP has recently supplied jojoba oil to a Kerala-based pharmaceutical company and Mahindra & Mahindra, Mumbai at a price of $40 per kg.

Jojoba bean oil contains 45 to 55 per cent oil or liquid wax, with chemical properties similar to those of the body fat obtained from sperm whale. The Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) has already conducted research on jojoba oil and has found that it can be used as an alternate fuel oil.

The IIP has filed 10 patents on basis of these researches, the chief executive and secretary of the AJORP, Capt PS Bhella, said. Mr Bhella, who was speaking to a group of visiting journalists from Delhi, said jojoba oil and its derivatives have diversified uses in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, food and confectioneries, electrical insulators, foam control agents, plansticisers, fire retardents and transformer oil.

He said that researches are also underway to examine whether jojoba oil can be used as a cooking medium. If these researches are successful then the problem of India's dependence on imports of refined edible oils can be stopped once and for all.

He hoped that researchers are likely to reach their logical end as the traditional Red Indians cook and eat jojoba seeds and use its oil extracted by crude process.

Jojoba oil can, thus, claim for its dual utility as both fuel oil and edible oil. Jojoba oil has high boiling as well as freezing points. In addition to this it has high thermal stability, smoke, flash and fire points. Its decomposition point is 315 degree centigrade.

Mr Bhella said the Rajasthan government has allotted 110 hectare of wastelands including 70 hectare at Fatehpur in Sikar district and 40 hectare at Dhand in Jaipur district for jojoba plantation.

Jojoba plantation project was formulated in 1995 for a period of five years, with a revised financial outlay of Rs 321.23 lakh to be met by central assistance.

Jojoba in the country is now being grown in an estimated area of about 335 hectare and the area is increasing every year. The production estimate for this plantation is 25 million tonne. About 90 per cent of the jojoba cultivation is in Rajasthan. The cost of development of jojoba plantation including tubewells is Rs 1 lakh per hectare. The cost-benefit ratio is 1:3.4 and IRR is 37 per cent. The cost of production of one kg of jojoba in US is Rs 132, in Israel it is Rs 68 and in India it is Rs 20. This low cost of production in the country gives it a competitive edge.

(The press tour was sponsored by the Union ministry of rural development)

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