The Egyptian state Wikalat Al-Anbaa' Al-Sharq Al-'awsat news agency reported Saturday that the jatropha plant is of particular interest to the country's Ministry of Agriculture. A ministry spokesperson told the agency that the ministry is to plant 84 hectares in Egypt's Red Sea Hurghada province with jatropha as an initial test project.
Jatropha, a non-food plant crop, grows well on semiarid land and produces oil that can be utilized in the production of bio-diesel fuel, and its ability to grow on land with little water makes it less of a threat to food production than other biofuel feedstocks such as grains and vegetable oils, which require more irrigation.
A major factor in the Egyptian government's search for renewable biofuels is its projections that the country's population will continue to grow, which will put the country's limited energy sources under increasing strain to support a significant increase in its citizenry.
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