British firm lures farmers to grow tuba-tuba around Mindanao

Here’s one news for farmers around Mindanao:

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MIndanews/21 May) – Pay upon harvest.

A British firm going around Mindanao to entice farmers to cultivate tuba-tuba
(Jatropha curcas), is providing the farmers planting materials, technical
assistance and a marketing agreement.

“Farmers can pay us upon harvest,” Recto Doctor, country agronomist of D1 Oils
Asia Pacific, Inc., a subsidiary of D1 Oils UK, said. The firm wants jatropha
planted in at least 10,000 hectares of land.

Doctor said the firm is aggressive in its jatropha project now that the
country is implementing the Biofuels Act, which was signed into law only last
January 17.

But Doctors said they prefer unutilized lands turned into jatropha plantations
rather than converting existing farmlands planted to corn, rice and other crops.Jatropha, he said, would help alleviate poverty in the countryside and can
help in the protection of the environment since it can prevent soil erosion.

The crop is due for harvest seven months from planting and has a life span of
30 years. For the first year, a hectare could yield between P15,000 to
P20,000 and grows bigger to P30,000 as the plant matures.

D1 Oils Asia is working out a financing window for farmers through the Land
Bank of the Philippines

The firm has plans to establish a refinery in the country but only after the
desired number of hectares will be planted to jatropha, Doctor said.

Jatropha planted over 500 or 1,000 hectares would be good for an extracting
plant, he said.

At present, jatropha has been planted in less than 100 hectares of land in
Southwestern Mindanao.

Riding on the prospect of the biofuel industry, independent oil producers like
Seaoil Philippines Corp. earlier revealed plans to embark on an initial public
offering this year or early 2008 to raise funds for the construction of an
ethanol plant.

Under the Biofuels Act, gasoline should initially be blended with 5% ethanol,
ensuring a steady market for ethanol producers.
Seaoil is also part of the recently formed Enerfuse Holdings, Inc. that is
putting up a biodiesel plant in Sasa, Davao City. Enerfuse also includes
independent oil firms Eastern Petroleum Corp., Flying V and Unioil

Jatropha is a rich source of biodiesel that is considered an alternative to
the depleting global supply of fossil fuels. Biodiesel is being promoted also
as an environmentally friendly fuel.

In its website, D1 Asia, based in Singapore, said that future demand for
biodiesel is expected to be strong in Southeast Asia, a region with a suitable
climatic condition for jatropha.

In 2005, D1 Asia forged an agreement with the Atlas Consolidated Mining and
Development Corp. to collaborate on a project in the Philippines aimed at
rehabilitating land previously degraded by mining through the cultivation of
jatropha.

In the Philippines, the price per kilo of jatropha fruits is reportedly at
P10. (MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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