Pongamia Trees Could Help Offer Renewable Energy

(VitalNews.org) – A tree familiar to India, the Pongamia tree, is now thriving where citrus once grew in Florida, and it’s said that these trees could potentially help with everything from renewable energy to plant-based proteins.

Florida has seen a huge decrease in their citrus production, which was one of the state’s biggest growing opportunities, due to two large diseases that wiped out a lot of their fruit production. Some farmers who haven’t been able to produce as much crop as usual, have moved on to Pongamia trees instead.

This tree is a climate-resilient tree perfect for the area and current conditions; it can be used for plant proteins and also renewable biofuel. These trees, which were often used for shade, produce legumes that are bitter, so animals won’t eat the beans or the tree. Another factor that can be beneficial to farmers is that these trees need much less attention than citrus or fruit trees do.

They will flourish without any pesticides or fertilizer, and they can flourish in a variety of conditions, including drought or rainy conditions. On top of this, they won’t need any workers to harvest the beans off of the tree because they will just use a machine that shakes them off when ready to harvest.

Terviva, founded by Naveen Sikka, is a company that will then go in and remove the bitter layer of the beans and get them ready for production. “Florida offers a rare opportunity for both Terviva and former citrus farmers. The historical decline of the citrus industry has left farmers without a crop that can grow profitably on hundreds of thousands of acres, and there needs to be a very scalable replacement, very soon,” Sikka said.

The legumes on the tree can produce an oil that can be used for biofuel, mostly for aviation, and this can help make less of a carbon footprint than using the current fuel. They have found that making a wild tree into a domestic one isn’t easy, but they are working tirelessly to expand production as it can be produced for biofuel and plant protein purposes.

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