Bharat Renewable Energy Ltd (BREL), a joint-venture of Bharat Petroleum, India’s second largest petroleum company, has initiated a program with SG Biofuels (SGB) to develop and deploy elite hybrids of Jatropha for the production of biodiesel in India.
The program’s first phase includes a crop development effort to produce high-performing hybrid varieties of Jatropha adapted to unique growing conditions across the country. Additional phases include the deployment of more than 86,000 acres of Jatropha using SGB’s JMax hybrid seeds.
SGB will draw from the advancements of its global JMax crop development centers where the company is optimizing elite hybrid varieties of Jatropha through a combination of molecular breeding and biotechnology. The centers feature hybrid material from the company’s germplasm library totaling more than 12,000 genotypes. SGB will work with BREL to select, test and scale the highest yielding, most commercially viable hybrid varieties for growing regions in India, including the initial 86,000 acre deployment.
In December 2009, the Indian Government developed its National Policy on Biofuels targeting 20% blending of bioethanol and biodiesel into gasoline and diesel markets. Government policy stipulates the use of wastelands to cultivate non-edible oil seed plants without affecting food security. According to the Asian Development Bank, the current cultivation of Jatropha and other non-edible oilseeds will need to increase by nearly 80 million acres to meet the nation’s biodiesel targets.