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RBZ Dumps Gono’s Failed Jatropha Project

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By Leopold Munhende


THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has finally given up on former Governor Gideon Gono’s Jatropha Biodiesel experiment.

RBZ governor John Mangudya said in his 2021 Mid-Term Monetary Policy review the project no longer warranted the central bank’s attention.

The jatropha experiment was launched as a source of bio-diesel by Gono in 2005 at the height of an economic crisis which saw most filling stations running dry of fuel across the country.

Mangudya revealed the RBZ had disposed of Transload Enterprises to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technolohy Development.

“The Bank has been able to achieve its goal to dispose of two of its assets, Tuli Coal (Private) Limited and Transload Enterprises (Private) Limited (the jatropha/bio-diesel plant), to Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, respectively,” said Mangudya.

Upon its launch, experts questioned whether farmers will have enough finance and capacity to grow jatropha at a time they were failing to produce enough to feed the country.

Gono maintained the project, then touted as the best fuel solution in Africa, would be a success.

He expected it to save between US$35 and US$80 million of public funds per year.

Mangudya once referred to the jatropha project as “insignificant,” “less than a white elephant” and just a “small elephant.”

The RBZ’s decision to dump Transload Enterprises (Private) Limited on the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development puts paid to claims government has resigned itself to research on jatropha before rushing into declaring it a saviour.

Reports indicate experts at some of the state’s universities have been researching and testing jatropha plants looking for the best possible to grow on a commercial scale.

Jatropha took Zimbabwe by storm mid-2000s, with government encouraging subsistence farming to fuel Gono’s dream.