Though Jatropha seeds contain a poisonous element, since about three years ago, the residues from the seeds have been used as a cheaper source of protein for livestock at the University of Ilorin research farm in Kwara State, and by some farmers.
When Jatropha seeds, which are got from the Jatropha plant, are squeezed, the oil produced can be used as biodiesel or in the making of pesticides. The substance remaining has about 80 percent crude protein, which is higher than soya beans and groundnut, but it contains a poisonous element. But through biotechnological means at the laboratory of the University of Ilorin, the poisonous element is extracted and the oil-pressed seeds are packaged as a concentrate and used in feeding ruminants on the university farm.
Moshood Belewu, professor at the animal production department of the university’s agriculture faculty, says the university is exploring partnership opportunities to scale up the production of Jatropha cakes as animal feeds.
Farmers direly need to seek and utilise alternative feed sources to reduce production cost and increase profitability. Soyabean and groundnuts are consumed by humans and the demand is still higher than supply in Nigeria, therefore for the farmers, these are relatively expensive protein sources.