July 01, 2007

Taking the lead in Ilocos Region
PGIN launches jathropa plantation in Pasuquin

PASUQUIN, Ilocos Norte—With the passage of the Biofuel Act, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) has taken the lead in the Ilocos region in providing the necessary raw material for the said fuel by launching a 19-hectare jathropa plantation in Barangay Davila in this town.

The said plantation, which was officially launched on June 26, would serve as a seed bank in promoting a sustainable and clean source of energy through the production of biodiesel from the plant-oil extract.

In 18 months’ time, Romeo Anggay, environment and natural resources officer (ENRO) of the PGIN, said that the province will become the first jathropa plantation in Region I to facilitate the adoption of jathropa by distributing seedlings to interested groups of farmer-organizations who would like to take advantage of this promising plant. Jathropa seedlings were sourced from Mindanao.

Classified as a public forest, the 19-hectare jathropa plantation involved 18 local farmer-beneficiaries of Barangay Davila.

Based on a memorandum of agreement between the PGIN and the stakeholders, the ENRO-PGIN will monitor and supervise the pilot project and provide technical assistance to the farmer-beneficiaries.

The farmers will also have a guaranteed buyer after the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) has already pledged to buy pure oil from jathropa seed extracts.

A one-hectare jathropa plantation can produce at least 1,700 liters of jathropa oil, which could later be use by biodiesel-fueled cars. Biodiesel is being looked up as a possible alternative for petroleum-based fuel.

Earlier, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has conducted a survey around the country to find out which has the most jathropa plants. After the survey, they collected jathropa trees from the different regions in the country.

Called “the living fence” by farmers, jathropa can also be used for medicinal purposes, where its leaves can be used in curing rheumatism as practiced by rural folks.

Based on a study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Pasuquin has been identified as one of the possible pilot sites for the jathropa plantation because of its low elevation which is suitable for jathropa farming.

In Bataan, Japanese firm Shomar International Trading Corporation has invested at least P10 billion for the production of biodiesel sourced from the jathropa plant, locally known as “tuba-tuba” or “tawwa-tawwa” in the Iluko language. With initial 5,000 hectares planted with jathropa in the area, the firm still needs 75,000 hectares more for its plantation.

Leilanie G. Adriano

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