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ISLAMABAD, April 24 Kijani Energy, a Canadian company, on Friday announced to invest $150 million in Pakistan during next five years for cultivation of plants for producing bio-diesel.

KE Canada signed a memorandum of understanding with Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PRAC) to focus on the large-scale cultivation of Jatropha plant, an environment-friendly and cost-effective source of bio-diesel.

PARC and KE would jointly work for the promotion of Jatropha cultivation at mass scale on marginal and semi-marginal areas which have no history of food cultivation in the last five years.

Junaid Mirza of KE Canada said that the feasibility report suggested that Cholistan and Thar areas were ideal locations for cultivation of Jatropha. “Farmers of these areas will be educated to make the crop successful,” he added.He said Jatropha would be cultivated on 200,000 acres this year. “The company intends to build an oil extraction facility and power generation plant using the seed paste from Jatropha in next two years.”

Jatropha is a non-edible, traditional medicinal plant grown in many countries of Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia is also considered the best source of bio-diesel. The plant can grow in poor conditions with less than 250 millimetre rainfalls per annum.

PARC Chairman Dr Zafar Altaf while highlighting the importance of the project said that the bio-diesel production would help the country to save around $150 million per annum.

Diesel accounts the largest component among the petroleum products being imported in the country.

Oil collected from the seeds of Jatropha plants is processed and blended with diesel to make bio-diesel.