Thursday, 14 April 2011

Intercropping Ginseng With Jatropha For Commercial Polyculture Plantations In India

Jatropha Plantations are grown on many different continents and are the second generation of Bio fuel feedstocks, intercropping Jatropha in Africa with Aloe Vera provides a great income which can sustain the Jatropha Plantation as a commercial enterprise through the first four or five years before the Jatropha plants reach maturety and are capable of producing sustainable bio fuel feedstock.

Jatropha has been grown in India for many years and is found on the railway banks as well as being grown on plantations for research into biofuels.

In India Ginseng is the ideal plant to introduce as part of a polyculture Jatropha Plantation because of its value and cultural relevence through out Asia. Genseng is a stout shrub that reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet very much like the tomato which belongs to the same family of plants. Tomato's are also suitable for intercropping with Jatropha in a polyculture plantation.

Genseng has yellow flowers and red fruit, though its fruit is berry-like in size and shape. Ashwagandha grows prolifically in India,Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It is commercially cultivated in Madhya Pradesh the existing cultivation and cultural significance of the plant make it an ideal agricultural business to combine with a Jatropha Plantation for sustainable bio fuel feedstock.

Cultivation of Genseng (Withania Somnifera) as Polyculture with Jatropha (Jatropha Curacus Lin)

Genseng has been extensively domesticated from the wild form. In India there are at least five different cultivars which have been developed for increased root size and adaptation to different regional climates. The Genseng crop is mainly grown on residual land of exactly the same type that Jatropha Curacus thrives in. 
No fertilizers need be applied to Jatropha or Genseng and the plants do not need irrigation, water from rain is sufficient.

Genseng is considered an adaptogen which is an herb that works to normalize physiological function, working on the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system.

Commercial Produce of Genseng and Jatropha Polyculture Plantations

The parts of the plant that are used for traditional medicines are the roots and leaves, which have been traditionally used for the Ayurvedic system as aphrodisiacs, diuretics as well as for treating memory loss.
In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are boiled in milk, prior to drying, in order to remove undesirable constituents. The berries are also used as a substitute for rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making.

The crop is ready in six months and harvesting starts in January continuing till the end of March.An average yield is between 400 and 500 Kg of root and 50 Kg of seeds per hectare of Genseng intercropped with Jatropa Curacus Lin.

Because leaves have medicinal properties it might be profitable to produce tincture localy and sell this or combine it with the glycerine by product of refining crude Jatropha oil into Jatropha Methyl Ester to make soap, boosting the local economy with the trade products that can be sold by local people at local markets.

2 oz liquid extract costs about $15 USD
1 oz of root cost $2 USD
10 Kg of root powder cost $150 USD
100 seeds cost $1.50

When intercropping Genseng and Jatropha Curacus about 200 Kg of Genseng root and 20 Kg of Genseng seeds are produced by one hectare.

We assume that there are 1300 Genseng seeds in 1 Kg and 1600 seeds in 1 Kg of Jatropha seeds. In harvesting 200 kg of  Genseng root you also have 20 Kg of Genseng leaves.

You use 5 Kg of leaves to produce one Kg of tincture in the same way the husks from the Jatropha seeds can be used as fertilizer or sold at local prices. This is around $4000 USD profit on Genseng root, seeds and tincture

This extra income is available within 6 months of being planted as part of a polyculture Jatropha plantation the Genseng makes the plantation financially sustainable within 6 months whilst it will take the Jatropha 4 years to establish itself to the point where it will produce $4000 worth of Crude Jatropha Oil.

Both the price of Medicinal Herbs like Genseng and the price of second generation Bio Fuel Feedstocks such as Jatropha are steadily rising by about 20% a year.


  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the info! I have only ever seen monoculture plantations being grown for biofuel projects. Intercropping makes good economic sense!


  2. This is exactly the sort of approach to growing Jatropha that should be taken by small holders in Africa.

    A monoculture plantation does not provide food security by growing jatropha soley for biofuel production.


  3. Thank you for the information on how to intercrop jatropha curacus this is the only revenue projection I have seen for a polyculture jatropha curacus lin plantation.

    I agree with the statements about monoculture not providing food security.

    Food security is very important in Africa and nobody here is intercropping!

    People need useful information of holistic growing of Jatropha Curacus Lin.

    The Making of soap from the glycerine byproduct from the transestherfication process used to make biodiesel can be used to produce a high quality organic soap from the jatropha.

    I hope you can visit my video