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Croton Tree: Africa's tree of biofuel that gives hope for development and progress of the economy

By Mauricia | Dec 30, 2016 10:29 AM EST
Croton tree bear croton nuts which contain large volume of oil which can be used as a substitute to diesel.
(Photo : YouTube/Al Jazeera English ) Croton tree bear croton nuts which contain large volume of oil which can be used as a substitute to diesel.

When it comes to fuel many countries, especially the developing ones, rely heavily on coal to power factories or for household use. Biofuel is being eyed to be a great source of fuel and the Croton tree is an outstanding candidate that would give hope for the people of Africa.

The tree called Croton megalocarpus is native in East and Central Africa and has many uses aside from firewood. The Croton nuts are proven to consist of oil and protein in high amounts and are now being used as a clean substitute to diesel. With a bountiful resource of croton nuts obtainable at minimal cost, a new commerce will surface with towering objectives.

According to CNN, serial entrepreneur Alan Paul developed Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) to discover croton's capability in 2012 which follows an early study that proposed capacity. His firm is now pursuing the drive to make croton biofuel to the majority.

EFK Managing Director Myles Katz said, "(Paul) said we can grow organically by sourcing what is already there from one of the most common trees. We can buy nuts from farmers so they get an income and we have a business model that does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation to get off the ground."

Compared to the traditional fuel production, oil produced from croton nut is a low-tech and low-energy procedure. The huge volume of fuel is being purchased by local industries that usually use generators like in tourist camps. After extracting the oil from the nuts, the remains are being pressed to make poultry feeds and from the shells are organic fertilizers.

Croton tree is fast growing and can reach up to 36 meters in height which takes five to seven years to mature. This tree species commonly grows in African countries including Burundi, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Somalia, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, and Rwanda.  The tree can survive drought and does not attract much of animal's attention.

Meanwhile, TreeEco along with many Zimbabwe locals celebrated in the National Tree Planting Day as the country drives for reforestation. TreeEco is a local forestry company that motivates the growing, planting as well as checking of Zimbabwe's native and fruit tree species. The organization is a partner of Wild Is Life Foundation. The trees planted at the premises of Danckwerts primary school include croton, mango, moringa, pawpaw, and orange, All Africa reported.

Africa looks to croton with high hopes that it will lift the submerged economy. The project only lacks funding for study and development which restrain the croton industry from totally emerging.

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