August 22, 2007 – (PIA.gov.ph) LEGAZPI CITY — With the increasing demand for cheaper and environment-friendly sources of fuel in today’s market the government is stepping up its efforts to answer the need by advocating the use of local alternative fuel sources such as those from plants called biofuel.
With the passage of the Biofuels Act, new opportunities for biofuel production opened up.
One potential sources of biodiesel or renewable and biodegradable fuel extracted from plant oils is Jatropha Curcas or locally known as ‘tuba-tuba’. This plant is found anywhere in the country and is used by local folk as medicine for aching body parts.
In the Bicol region, there is a growing interest on the potentials of this plant. More farmers and local entities are interested in jatropha production and research.
Two government agencies in Bicol are taking the initiative in the jatropha industry/production in the region. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified 37,798 hectares as potential sites for jatropha plantation in the region, distributed as follows: Albay, 180 hectares; Camarines Norte, 870; Camarines Sur, 19,501; Masbate, 12,114; and Sorsogon, 5,133. The Department of Agriculture (DA) is likewise establishing jatropha nursery as source of planting materials for interested growers. The DA which will provide training and technical know-how to farmers, is also planning to establish jatropha processing plant in strategic production zones in the region.
Some local government units are starting their jatropha projects. The Ligao City government is negotiating with Philippine Forest Corporation, DENR and farmers to put up a jatropha plantation in the coastal barangays of the city. The target area is 1,000 hectares, with plan for expansion. Likewise, the provincial government of Camarines Sur has launched its jatropha project targeting 10,000 hectares. Currently, it has 16,000 hectares nursery farm in the towns of Pili, Calabanga, Caramoan and Sipocot. The nurseries were established in preparation for the massive propagation of tuba-tuba in the province.
State universities and colleges in the region are also doing their share to increase jatropha production. Bicol University has initiated a community-based planting involving 100 women, each given 30 pieces of planting materials as start-up activity. The Camarines Norte State Colleges (CNSC) has started the project, “Enterprise Development Program for Jatropha in Bicol Region”. As of December 2006, CNSC established a 0.5 hectare nursery and an initial area of 5.5 hectares were planted with jatropha. A local landowner in the province has committed 4.5 hectares of land for tuba-tuba plantation.