UK firm invests $20m in Tanzania biofuel farm By WILFRED EDWIN Special Correspondent Tanzania has landed a Tsh25.3 billion ($20 million) biofuel processing project that will see large-scale planting of jatropha oilseed crops for the production and distribution of crude and refined products. Sun Biofuels Tanzania Ltd, in which Britains Sun Biofuels Plc has an 88 per cent controlling stake, has already applied for 9,000 hectares of land in Kisarawe district in the Coast Region, some 70 kilometers from Dar es Salaam. The process of land acquisition for the project is at an advanced stage, awaiting President Jakaya Kikwetes assent. This will see 11 villages of one of the oldest districts in Tanzania relinquish a total of 9,000 hectares of land to the investor. Leo Rwegasira, Land Officer for Kisarawe district, told The EastAfrican last week that Tsh800 million ($632,411.067) has been earmarked by the investor as compensation to 2,840 households. The University College of Land and Architectural Studies (UCLAS) carried out the crop and land evaluation for purposes of compensation, Mr Rwegasira said. According to the 2002 population census, there are a total of 11, 277 people residing in the 11 villages. The villages are Mtamba, Muhaga, Marumbo, Paraka, Kidugalo, Kului, Mtakayo, Vilabwa, Mitengwe, Mzenga A and Chakaye. Sun Biofuels had applied for 20,000 hectares in 2005, but authorities were able to offer just 9,000. The investment has already been registered by the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), which has given the firm Certificate of Incentives number 010176. Under the certificate, the investment implementation period is expected to be between September 25, 2005 and August 2009, and the operative date is September 1, 2009. But owing to the existing land regulations, the investors can only get a title deed which is being processed after the villagers have been compensated. Apart from Sun Biofuels Plc of the UK, the companys shareholders are a British national, Julian Ozanne (10 per cent) and Daudi Makobore and Herbert Marwa, Tanzanian nationals who own one per cent each. The TIC requires that any changes in shareholding, project activities and level of invested capital be notified to the centre. If the investors fail to start up the project within two years, the certificate will become invalid and the investors will need to apply for a fresh one. Omar Dibibi, Kisarawe District Council Chairman, said the jatropha biofuel project would catalyse the districts economy and give Kisarawe residents a new cash crop. Traditionally, cashewnut and coconut have been the major cash crops in the district. He said the arrangement between local residents and the investors is that the former will also be given expertise and seeds to grow jatropha and sell it to SBC. The investment is expected directly or indirectly to employ about 1,000 local people for a start, a figure that could rise as the project expands. Experts say that while jatropha curcas seeds can be used as fuel for any diesel engine without modification, they are also used in manufacturing of varnishes, illuminants, soap, pest control and medicine for skin diseases. Dark blue dye and wax can be produced from the bark of the jatropha curcas, its stem is used as a poor quality wood while the leaves help in dressing wounds and the roots produce a yellow dye. Experts say the annual yield per hectare is up to 8 tonnes of Jatropha seed, which contain over 30 per cent oil. At $320 per tonne, this will translate into production of jatropha crude oil worth $768 per hectare per year. Of potentially equal or greater value is the yield from jatropha seeds of glycerin. Up to 7 per cent of jatropha seeds are made up of glycerin, which sells for up to $2,000 per tonne, translating into glycerin sales of up to $1,120 per year per hectare, or total sales of up to $1,888 per year per hectare, experts say. It is understood that the University of Dar es Salaam through the Energy Department in the Faculty of Engineering, along with the Tanzania Industrial Research Development Organisation, Kakute Ltd Tanzania and the Seliani Agriculture Research Institute of Arusha, are involved in research and development of the crop. But according to a recent study entitled Prospects for Jatropha Biofuels in Developing Countries: An Analysis for Tanzania with Strategic Niche Management, there are many obstacles in Tanzanias energy regime that could impede the emerging transition towards jatropha.