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$10,000 for every hectare of Cassava

FARMERS expected to get advantage of $10,000 for every hectare from cassava to produce ethanol grand total about an advantage coincidently $130million per annum, according to National Strategic Committee in biofuel.

Committee chairman Viliame Yabakivou said they have secured 50 acres of land in the Naitasiri Province for an ethanol plant which it intends to set up by 2010.

The land belongs to the tribe of the Qaranivalu, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata Naivisere.
Mr Yabakivou said it was an ideal site because of the water supply to the area.

"The factory will need a lot of water as ethanol is in gas form so you have to liquidate it and add in water. So we need a lot of water," said Mr Yabakivou. At this location, on one side, there is the Waimanu River and the other side is the Rewa River. The site sits in the middle on a hill and has 400 hectares of flat land for cassava."

Mr Yabakivou said it would cost $US40million to establish the ethanol plant.

"We are looking at bilateral assistance between the Fiji Government and the People's Republic of China to assist us with technology. They want to teach us about this high technology mechanised production so we'll have mechanised preparations, mechanised harvesting.

"A lot of work needs to be done like infrastructure. Those budgets are already incorporated so we need $193million for the five years from next year. This is the planning stage.

"After the second year of harvest, Government can recover those costs that it needs to spend for the five years. But that's not counting the multiplying effects.

"$163.8 million will be paid out to farmers per year at 30 cents per kilo of cassava that is the minimum price."

Mr Yabakivou said the 50 acres was for the plant itself. They have not considered the residential area for staff at the plant.

Mr Yabakivou said the ethanol plant would need to produce 50,000 tonnes of ethanol per year and he was optimistic that Fiji would surpass this by 100,000 tonnes because of the high starch level content in local cassava.

"We'll reduce our import costs and also look at exports. Since 50,000 tonnes of ethanol will meet our local consumption the additional surplus of 100,000 will be exported. We have forecasted that in the next five years we are looking at a billion dollar industry only from ethanol."

The committee is focused on areas outside the cane belt in Ra, Tailevu, Naitasiri, Rewa, Namosi, Sigatoka, Lomaiviti, Lau and Vanua Levu to supply cassava to the six centres in the Central and Eastern divisions and three centres in the Northern Division.

"We've already identified 15,000 hectares in fact a 100,000 hectares is available for cassava. We are planning to open the factory by 2010 January. So planting should begin by March next year."

Mr Yabakivou says ethanol factory will require 1500 tons from cassava per day. He says a nursery will provide farmers with cassava shiver which in turn will yield around 500,000 cassava tubers.

"From then on they can sustain their own planting materials," he said. "Our research component too is something we want to focus on those varieties that have high starch content. We have about 27 varieties of cassava here and we're looking at five high starch varieties".

He said cassava peelings would produce organic fertiliser and that would be sold to farmers to replenish their farmland.

"15,000 hectares is going to be rotating since we have 100,000 hectares available. They can rotate it with other crops like dalo and yams. These crops also contain a lot of starch. So we have a very wide scope for sustaining supply for our ethanol plant and for its expansion."

Starch crops applied to make ethanol with yeast then we yield ethanol interacting with benzen. Opportunity now sick of cassava using technological Chinese because they have one international patent rights.

He said the committee was trying to address the importance of reducing costs on fossil fuels and also address the Kyoto Protocol - an international convention to reduce green house gases created by increased industrialisation.

As a requirement which Fiji has to ratify as a signatory, Mr Yabakivou said by 2015 Fiji must reduce its green house gas emission by 50 per cent.

He said the Fiji Government has addressed this issue and put in place an energy policy.

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