British Firm May Invest in Jatropha

A British firm is contemplating investing hundreds of millions of dollars to establish a massive jatropha tree plantation to produce biodiesel in Stung Treng province, commodities ty­coon and CPP Senator Mong Reth­thy said this week.

Mong Reththy, president of Mong Reththy Group, said D1 Oils Plc, a UK-based biodiesel company, is looking to invest $300 million in a 100,000-hectare jatropha plantation and $100 million on a biodiesel production facility in Cambodia.

Mong Reththy said he is scheduled to fly with British Ambassador David Reader and a D1 representative to Stung Treng province Friday to scout for land and sample jatropha trees.

He added that he received a 70-year concession in 2001 for 100,000 hectares of government land in Stung Treng district’s Samaki Commune for the plantation.

“We help the government to find the company to invest on the land and give people jobs,” Mong Reththy said.

Jatropha trees produce a fruit that can be processed into cooking oil or biodiesel for engines. Five kilograms of Jatropha fruit beans can produce about 1 liter of biodiesel, said Sat Samy, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of In­dustry, Mines and Energy. He added that jatropha beans were currently selling for around $0.10 per kg.

Kim Chantha, public affairs officer for the British Embassy, confirmed that D1 Oils’ regional director for op­erations in Africa and Asia, Patrick O’Leary, would fly to Stung Treng on Friday to scout for plantation land.

He said British investors consider Cambodia politically stable and economically sound for investment.

“The company has seen high po­tential in Cambodia’s agriculture sector,” Kim Chantha said.

Deputy Stung Treng Provincial Governor Long Phall said he wasn’t aware of the scouting trip, but added that he welcomes investment in his province.

If each hectare of a Jatropha plantation requires five unskilled laborers to manage it, Mong Reththy said his concession could one day em-ploy 500,000 people. “We are seeking jobs for Cambo­dian people on unused government land,” he said. “There’s no need for educated people, we need simple labor.”

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