Ethiopian, Ugandan firm push Sahara desert by investing in biodiesel

Tigrai online
Dec. 05 2009

A farmer in Tigrai state northern Ethiopia

A Ugandan company Africa Power Initiative (API) and its sister company in Ethiopia API Renewable Energy PLC (“API”), last week made history in the country with major achievements in environmental protection ahead of climate conference in Copenhagen Denmark.

API has developed a unique approach in line with its vision of “Pushing back the Sahara” by undertaking a large scale biodiesel and rural development project in Tigray region of northern Ethiopia where it has started growing jatropha, castor oil and candle nut. The company that holds a public private partnership (PPP) with the Tigray regional government in Ethiopia wants to transform arid and unutilized land into sites of agricultural cultivation.

TA combination of drought-resistant shrub and tree varieties will slow erosion and prevent further degradation of the soils. This approach will contribute to the reclamation of degraded or otherwise marginal soils that are currently unfit for food or cash crop farming.

Food crops such as tomato, eggplant, and cabbages will be planted alongside the oilseed crops to improve the standard of nutrition of the local community and strengthen food security.

“We are planning to plant 100,000 hectares of oilseed-producing plants over the next twelve months,” explained Marcos Bitew, the API General Manager.

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