3 Egyptian entities sign cooperation protocol to produce jojoba fuel

Mohammed El-Said
5 Min Read

The protocol includes Assiut University, the Assiut Oil Refining Company (ASORC), and the Masria Khaligia Company for Desert Land Reclamation.

Three Egyptian parties have signed a cooperation protocol to produce biofuel from the jojoba plant, with the aim of maximising how the plant is used.

Assiut University, through its Faculties of Agriculture, Pharmacy, and Science, will contribute to the academic aspect, and research the uses and characteristics of jojoba.

ASORC, meanwhile, will participate in the protocol with its laboratories specialised in oil analysis and the production of biofuels and lubricants from jojoba oil.

This will also see the company owning a productive jojoba farm, which will be supervised by the Masria Khaligia Company.

Ismail Mohamed, head of the Masria Khaligia Company, said they will work to produce strains for selected plant mothers with high productivity and quality.

This is in addition to planting the land using the latest technologies that are compatible with the nature of the jojoba plant, the soil in which it can be grown, and the water that will be used in irrigation. Based on the protocol, some products will be trialled before going on the market.

The protocol’s goal is to open new, broader horizons for manufacturing and covering the local market, Mohamed said, as well as exporting these products to foreign markets that absorb these products. These overseas markets, such as Europe, do not have the climatic and natural conditions suitable for growing this type of plant.

Mohamed added that jojoba oil has many uses in the manufacture of cosmetics and medical products. This is in addition to the production of lubricating oils, anti-rust oils, biofuels, and heavy engine oils, because it has the ability to maintain engines due to its sulphate-free nature.

The interest in jojoba began at the beginning of the 1970s as a natural alternative to whale liver oil, whose supplies stopped with the increase in international control over whaling.

The deserts of the Americas are the original home of the jojoba plant, which is characterised by its longevity, its ability to cope with unconventional water sources for irrigation, and the rarity of disease among its plants.

More than 50% of the weight of a jojoba seed is pure oil, which is chemically classified as a liquid wax rather than oil.

One of the advantages of the jojoba plant is that it does not compete with strategic crops for irrigation water or soil, because it is a plant grown in marginal desert lands. It also is quite happy being irrigated with unconventional water sources, such as treated sewage, industrial and agricultural water, and highly saline water.

“Jojoba cultivation contributes to facing climate changes as it is considered one of the agricultural projects with an industrial aspect, and therefore it is a labour-intensive project,” Mohamed said.

Jojoba oil, a natural, non-chemical substance, is also used in the waxing of fruits and vegetables to maintain their quality and keep them in a fresh state. This is especially for fruits and vegetables that are being exported abroad and take long periods for shipment.

Mohamed explained that his company is currently implementing one of the largest jojoba cultivation projects on triple treated wastewater in Egypt, on an area of ​​3,000 feddan near Hurghada.

The project aims to contribute to making use of treated wastewater, which is a large amount of water that was previously simply disposed of. It also aims to create a belt of jojoba plants around Hurghada to stabilise sand and protect the city from sand invasion. The project has resulted in raising the city’s environmental rating.

Mohamed indicated that a number of smallholder farmers deal with the company through a contract system.

This sees the company provide them with seedlings, and cooperates with them in the cultivation of their small jojoba agricultural holdings before buying the crop from them. The company aspires to transform Egypt into the main stock market for jojoba oil in the world by 2025. 

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.