August 17, 2007 (Business Inquirer) — MANILA, Philippines — Government-owned PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. has signed an agreement with the provincial government of Quezon to establish jatropha plantations in the province.
According to the memorandum of agreement, the Quezon provincial government will identify and consolidate an initial 50,000 hectares of land for the project.
It will also ensure the availability of farmers who will participate in the project, from the planting to harvesting stage.
A Provincial Jatropha Committee will be established for this purpose.
For its part, PNOC-AFC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Philippine National Oil Co., will develop the land to be used for jatropha cultivation in the province, as well as provide the required technical knowledge support and training to the project participants.
The government firm will likewise purchase all seeds produced from the jatropha plantations at an agreed price, which will be the subject of a separate agreement between PNOC-AFC and the Quezon provincial government.
“By entering into (an agreement), the PNOC-AFC and the Quezon local government unit seeks to establish a basic framework for collaboration, cooperation and coordination for the establishment of an integrated jatropha plantation,” PNOC-AFC president and chief executive Peter Anthony Abaya said.
The Quezon provincial government has always been interested in promoting jatropha cultivation as a means of providing additional income to its farmers.
Out of Quezon’s 870,600 hectares of available land, 252,200 hectares are idle and can be used to grow jatropha.
PNOC-AFC is focusing on establishing jatropha seed and seedling nurseries this year before embarking on the establishment of actual plantations starting 2008.
“The planting materials we now have nationwide are still insufficient. We have to have enough nurseries to supply what we’ll need for the jatropha plantations,” Abaya said.
“We can’t just jump into plantations without the sufficient planting materials. This is why PNOC-AFC is setting up nurseries all over the country, to propagate these planting materials,” he added.
The jatropha plant’s seeds have an oil content of 37 percent, which can be combusted as a fuel.
This oil has passed tests done on diesel engines.
Local biodiesel producers are currently using coconut as feedstock for their products.