The success of humanity in taking control of Earth has involved a series of partnerships with plants of outstanding utility. Our relationship with these crops is a constant strand in the history of our species and a defining expression of our presence on the planet. Consider that just four crops: wheat, corn, rice and soya cover more than 5% of the World’s land area. This compares with 2.7% for cities and 12% for the remaining rainforests. These are ‘conqueror crops’. Jatropha curcas, traditionally an undomesticated hedging plant with secondary utility as a source of oil, came to prominence when it was proposed as a feedstock for biofuel during an earlier era when crude oil was trading over $70 bbl. Research into the plant’s properties reveals that it has far greater utility than just as a source of energy. In this report we detail how Jatropha derived products have the scope to address an annual global sales opportunity of more than $120 billion in a variety of high value industrial applications. Addressing at least 8 classes of industrial applications, Jatropha derived components, have in a number of cases, superior technical functionality to competitor plant products, hinting at the crop’s potential to increase its importance for mankind. However, unless there is a credible prospect of scaled, economic, upstream supply of Jatropha commodities, these opportunities will be lost to proven commercial crops, such as soya and oil palm. A group of industrial investors and the crop science entities they are supporting (including names such as JOil in Singapore and Resolute Genetics in San Diego), are racing to put Jatropha into contention, to address the opportunities briefly detailed herein.
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