Jatropha could alleviate poverty in rural Siraha

SIRAHA: Farmers in Siraha have been attracted towards growing 'Jatropha' -a plant which can be used as raw material for the production of bio-diesel. The farmers have reared and cultivated the plants in hundreds of hectares of land in the district.

Further, the farmers have been benefited after CIRCOD-Nepal; an NGO installed equipment to extract bio-diesel from the plants. Dinesh Yadav, coordinator, CIRCOD, said that the poor farmers could be involved in Jatropha farming if the government provided them the public land.

He added, "This will make the nation self-sufficient and also contribute in poverty alleviation." The bio-diesel is used to run tractors and irrigation pumps locally.

According to him, CIRCOD has been helping the local groups to grow Jatropha. It has made an investment of Rs 4 lakhs in five VDCs including Bastipur in the district for the purpose.

CIRCOD has also been providing the seeds of Jatropha plants, after importing it from India.

The organisation also buys the plants from the farmers at a price of Rs 20 per kilogram.

As the farmers are able to sell their products at their doorstep, they have started to grown the plants in the fields where they used to produce food crops earlier.

Local farmers in groups have started to grow the plants in unused lands as the plants can grow very easily. The farmers have, collectively, planted Jatropha plants in 100 ropanis of land in the local community forest.

UNDP has also been assisting the local organisations for Jatropha farming. Uchit Bahadur Shahi, former chairman, Muksar VDC, said, "Production of tobacco-a major cash crop would likely be replaced by Jatropha."

According to Ramji Yadav, a local of Lalpur-5, Jatropha would soon occupy the farmlands of Siraha and Saptari. The farmers growing food crops have been bearing loss due to irregular rainfall and shortage of irrigation facilities.