The federal government has said the proposal to use the Jathropa Value Chain project as a means of successful production of a viable green alternative to fossil fuels will lead to a rapid creation of a new green economy in the rural areas and, ultimately, to an African Clean Energy Hub being set up in Nigeria.
This was disclosed at the weekend in Abuja by the Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril, while addressing the media on the forthcoming two-day national conference on jathropa scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
He said jathropa had been identified by the National Bio-fuel Policy and Incentives in 2007 as the preferred non-food plant for bio-fuel feedstock for production in the country.
Jibril stated that this Bio-fuel Policy agency as well as the NNPC’s Renewable Energy Division were set up to link the agriculture and energy sectors and promote job creation, technology acquisition, and attract foreign investment in the bio-fuels industry.
He explained that the massive cultivation of the jathropa plant to ensure diversification from the use of firewood and other environmentally unfriendly fuels will provide an additional means of livelihood for local communities that are losing ground water and vegetation every year due to desertification.
“The project will create an avenue for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through empowering people, taking climate action to fight desertification as well as reducing poverty, thus enhancing socio-economic growth across the country,” the junior minister said.
“It will be integrated into the afforestation programmes of the Federal Ministry of Environment in partnership with the state governments and relevant MDAs.”
According to him, this would be preceded by sustained advocacy visits by the Minister of Environment, Hajia Amina Mohammed, to secure the commitment of the states and lead to the new green economy in the rural areas and create jobs and wealth from the cultivation of jathropa and its value chain.
He said the conference targets farmers’ associations, private sector investors, international development partners, researchers, higher educational institutions, civil society organisations, policy makers and regulatory bodies in the renewable energy sector as well as state and local governments.