Extracting oil

I am writing in relation to Abbé Kussa’s letter in Footsteps 75. I teach Appropriate Farm Technologies at the Agricultural Training Institute in Zambia. From my experience the best way of extracting oil from Jatropha curcas (also known as Barbados or Physic nut) is to use a manually powered oil press. In Zambia it is called the Yenga oil press and costs about US$250. It is possible to press up to 50kg of seeds in one day. This is the process:

  1. Heat the Jatropha seeds using the sun or an oven. This makes it easier to extract the oil.
  2. Feed the pre-heated seeds into the machine and extract the oil.
  3. To purify this crude oil, mix the oil with water (one part water to five parts oil). Boil the mixture until all the water has evaporated (all bubbles gone). Let the mixture settle for several hours until the oil becomes clear. Be careful to avoid getting burnt.
  4. The oil can also be purified through filtering or by letting the unpurified oil stand for several days.

Remember that the oil is poisonous and should not be eaten as it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Aswelo Tembo, Agricultural Training Institute, PO Box 620272, Kalomo, Zambia.

EDITOR’S NOTE Biofuels can contribute to food insecurity if land is used to grow fuel crops instead of food crops. A way forward is to grow crops that provide food and also produce waste that can be used for biofuels, such as sweet sorghum.



I would like to thank you for Footsteps 75. I was really challenged by the whole issue, but especially the article on the front page about peace-building in Uganda. ‘Peace’ is a simple word to use, but it is hard to put it into action, particularly in Africa. In my own country, Kenya, we claim to be peace promoters, especially following the unrest which happened after the recent general election. However, in my opinion we have laid down our weapons but the conflict continues in people’s hearts.

Thank you for updating me on the peace-building work which is happening around the world.

Agapetus Mathew Wamalwa, c/o St. Catherine of Siena Parish, PO Box 230, 00621 Village Market, Nairobi, Kenya.

Email: agapetus_mathew@yahoo.com


Listening to children

Becoming a good communicator, especially with children, is a very relevant learning experience. It is important for adults to learn to listen to children about their worries, their stories, their fears and their desires. This is especially important for children living in difficult and stressful situations as it provides good support for them. Children feel reassured when they can share their feelings and concerns with someone. Let us not neglect our children. Let us listen to them and we will learn more.

Joël Kiramba, Co-ordinator of APEDI

Email: joelecpa@yahoo.fr

EDITOR’S NOTE Thank you for your letter and for raising an important issue. Be careful not to break a child’s trust if they share confidential information, unless they are at risk of harm or abuse. Ask the child if they would like you to act on what they have told you, but remember never to make promises you cannot keep.


Helping children

I work for Inspiring Future Foundation, a local children’s organisation in eastern Uganda. We help orphans and vulnerable children to live better lives by working alongside the community. In June 2008 we carried out a participatory needs assessment of 15 households of orphans or vulnerable children. This showed us the need to set up a community children’s welfare centre to help to mobilise the community to respond to the needs of children. The centre could be staffed by Inspiring Future Foundation volunteers or by community members. The centre could also be used as a place for the community to meet together.

We would like to hear from Footsteps readers who have knowledge and experience of setting up and managing a community children’s welfare centre.

Patrick Ejiku, Founder and Chief Resources Development Administrator, Inspiring Future Foundation, PO Box 824, Soroti, Uganda.

Email: patrick_ejiku@hotmail.com