JOil- A tech-enabled value chain integrator having pioneering expertise in Jatropha plant science and processing technologies. JOil is a joint venture company promoted by visionary shareholders – Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory Limited, Tata Chemicals Limited, Wuthelam Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Toyota Tsusho Corporation. In collaboration with Agroils, Italy the company has developed advanced patented technologies to produce high value products from Jatropha seeds that can be used for energy and non-energy applications. JOil’s operations spans across Singapore, India, Indonesia, Italy and Ghana.
The company is an active member of Jatropha Working Group of Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels and is committed to ensuring sustainability at its best. Awarded for its Path Breaking Research and Yield Enhancement in Jatropha by Biodiesel Association of India (BDAI), truly explains JOil’s commitment to research and commercialization of Jatropha as a viable biodiesel crop.
Jatropha: Marching Forward
It all started with Generation 0 Jatropha varieties, which were the wild grown Jatropha types, the seeds of which were used for establishing largescale plantations that commenced subsequent to the hype about Jatropha in the early 2000. The use of unproven wild types of Jatropha for establishing commercial scale projects combined with lack of well-researched agronomy practices and understanding of farming systems, led Jatropha, for no fault of it, to become a victim of misleading promotions and unjustified projections.
Understanding the ground realities and foreseeing the need for proven high yielding varieties and hybrids, JOil in 2008, commenced its scientific and structured Jatropha breeding program, which resulted in the evolution of Generation 1 varieties of Jatropha, JO S1 and JO S2, with a yield potential of 4 – 5 tons per ha. These elite varieties were evolved from a mix of promising accessions collected from across the globe representing a wide range of agro climatic conditions.
Sustained efforts in research and breeding saw the evolution of high yielding hybrids representing the Generation 2 in the Jatropha business. The hybrids were characterized by their abundant and early flowering pattern, and higher levels of more than 20 – 30% oil productivity as compared to the Generation 1 Jatropha varieties.
Moving into Generation 3 Jatropha varieties was interesting with the evolution of varieties suitable for high density planting.
The range of varieties and hybrids that JOil offers for commercial deployment is widely seen as a game changer in the industry.
3 P’s – The Cornerstones of JOil
- Planting materials/IP – Planting materials through years of breeding has demonstrated high yielding performance in many geographies
- Global Partnerships – JOil’s presence in 3 continents makes JOil a truly global company
- People – JOil, in total has about 150 employees across the 3 continents
The leadership comprises of an elite Board of Directors including the following eminent personalities – Sunny George Verghese (Chairman), K.V. Rao, Ranjeev Lodha, Jer Ren Lee, Law Heng Dean and Peter Chia. In addition, Dr Srinivasan Ramachandran is the Chief Technology Officer of JOil Singapore where he has been instrumental in charting its technology deployment strategy. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of JOil India.
Science to Business
Developing plantations with high yielding varieties and choosing the appropriate product mix according to the existing demands promises to make Jatropha business a highly attractive business proposition and a sustainable green business. Since inception, JOil has been striving hard to offer comprehensive services with an aim to transform the world for better. The company has exclusively developed elite varieties and hybrids of Jatropha by blending breeding, agronomy, tissue culture and biotechnology. JOil has developed high value products from Jatropha seeds for downstream Jatropha value chain – bio diesel, bio adhesives, protein meal, natural waxes, biomass briquettes, bio fertilizers, and bio pesticides.
JOil offers its varieties and hybrids with superior genetics to establish commercial scale plantations and also licenses its technologies for commercial utilization. It provides technical advisory services on agronomy which complements its primary business of sales of seedlings of elite varieties and hybrids of Jatropha.
Creating Success Stories
JOil’s subsidiary in Ghana has embarked on a mission to showcase Jatropha’s potential on a commercial scale. Since setting up operations in Ghana back in 2015, the company has transformed ~1,300 ha of marginal lands into Jatropha plantations. It has provided direct and indirect employment opportunities to a few thousand households in Yeji in Brong Ahafo region, and is recognized as the largest employment provider in Yeji. The income generated amongst the community helps in their social upliftment.
JOil is involved in other social initiatives like developing sheds for local school, upgrading the sanitation facilities in nearby villages, and conducting awareness programmes in the region. Apart from generating employment opportunities and social benefits, the Jatropha project in the region has helped in greening the otherwise marginal lands and in reducing soil erosion, thus creating a positive ecological impact which is evident from the vibrant biodiversity observed in the region.
Having set up its own captive plantations, JOil is on its way to engage a few thousand local community farmers to take up Jatropha cultivation under an Outgrower Scheme, which ensures an assured market linkage to the seeds produced. It also has plans to set up an integrated processing facility to cater to the needs of the local community.
JOil’s Footprint in India
With field operations centered around Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, JOil operates its research farms spread over fourteen sites on an area of seventy-five acres in the districts of Coimbatore and Erode. Structured crop breeding program is being taken up in the research farms and a wide range of varieties and hybrids are being evaluated for their performances and agro-climatic suitability. The improved varieties and hybrids, when grown in lands with limited fertility, would leave a positive carbon foot print there by bringing down the GHG emissions ensuring a better environment for the Gen Z. JOil also operates as an oil expeller facility with a production capacity of 10 MT per month. The clean burning Jatropha oil thus produced is being sold as lamp oil for lighting purposes. The seed cake that is obtained as a byproduct is offered to the farmers in the local community which is used as organic manure. The seed cake when used as organic manure improves the soil texture, enhances the microbial population, and improves the water holding capacity there by ensures sustainability in agriculture.
Charting New Directions
JOil’s research efforts have come to fruition whereby the high yielding varieties and hybrids of Jatropha are now made available for commercial deployment. This deployment over a larger area promises to meet out the energy demand of India in an environmentally sustainable way by bringing down the GHG emissions. Lands which were hitherto left uncultivated are likely to be covered with elite Jatropha improving the rural economy and providing employment opportunities for the rural community. Furthermore, the option to synthesize protein meal through JOil’s technologies would pave a way for making hitherto inedible low value seed cake to a high value protein meal which can be extensively used in animal feed formulations. A dual benefit of energy and food from the same piece of land is the way forward for a densely populated country like India.
Upcoming Plans for the Future
JOil is planning to develop Jatropha plantations over a larger area in India. It aims to expand its territory by collaborating with entities that have the green vision, and also by engaging farmers to take up cultivation of Jatropha in lands with moderate fertility. The biofuel and other bio-based materials produced by the company will go a long way to meet the energy and non-energy needs of India, ensuring sustainability in the process – Environmental, Economic and Social.
Guiding the Beginners
JOil advices the young minds to focus on sustainability, as it is the right way of growing a business. This will also ensure an organization to be better stewards of environment, and in the process being socially responsible and profitable.