November 29, 2007 (Philippines Information Agency) – In light of the search for alternative fuels due to the skyrocketing prices of oil products, Mindanao has been eyed as the most suitable area for biodiesel feedstock production.In his speech before the Mindanao Communicators Network on the topic “Prospects of Biofuels in Mindanao,” PNOC Alternative Fuels Corporation chairman Renato S. Velasco explained the importance of biofuels and its advantages, the global demand for biodiesel and the global supply of biodiesel, and the significance of jatropha as a source of biodiesel feedstock in the country.
In explaining jatropha in the Philippines, Velasco stressed that the country is ideal for jatropha cultivation.
“The Food and Agricultural Organization in its recent study assessed the potential of jatropha production as a biodiesel feedstock. The results showed that we have sufficient arable lands and favorable climatic conditions to ensure the large feedstock production every year and Mindanao is found to be the most suitable area,” said Velasco.
He said Mindanao, likewise, has huge tracts of lands that are presently idle that can be utilize to promote livelihood and spur growth in the countryside.
“We have already started planting jatropha in Cagayan de Oro and we aim to establish an aggregate amount of at least 700,000 hectares of jatropha plantations all over the country, bulk of which will be in Mindanao,” explained Velasco.
Velasco underscored that PNOC-AFC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of state-owned Philippine National Oil Company, do not aim at making farmers shift their food crop production to jatropha.
“We want the farmers to continue growing rice, sugar, and others. What we intend to do is give farmers additional income by developing idle lands by planting jatropha,” he noted.
Asked on the apprehensions to jatropha as a biodiesel feedstock, Velasco stressed that the Company want the public to know that wide-scale scientific work on jatropha is being done by the PNOC-AFC, concerned government agencies and the academe. He added that there is an ongoing study to find out which is the best variety of jatropha that can be planted and is suitable in various parts of the country.
“The Philippines is capable of producing jatropha biodiesel that can pass international standards. What is more important to note is that we used seeds from the local jatropha variety,” Velasco ended.