Sugar planters shift to cassava

ORMOC CITY — A group of sugar planters here is willing to convert 100 hectares of sugarcane plantations into cassava farms.

Climaco Evangelista, chairman of the board of the Occidental Leyte Farmers Cooperative Association and president of the Ormoc Chamber of Commerce, said he will convince each member to try planting cassava.

"This might be better than sugarcane once this goes full blast," he said. A hectare could yield up to 60 tons of cassava, or up to P100,000 worth of cassava.

Early Seven Marketing, which is based in Ormoc, has been buying sliced or semi-processed cassava for P2 per kilo.

It has committed to purchase the group’s harvest and has linked up with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Metro Ormoc Credit Cooperative (OCCCI) to provide micro-financing facilities to the farmers. The Visayas State University in Baybay will provide technical assistance.

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Feb. 23--Fernando Martinez, Eastern Petroleum chairman, said that the company is now on its second year of propagating the crop, which would be used as a feedstock for biofuel.

"We started with around 300 hectares harvested. Now we are planting 1,000 hectares. The rate of multiplication is three to five times. We need 10,000 hectares to process it for ethanol," he said.

Ethanol is a high-octane, water-free alcohol that can be used as a gasoline substitute. The alternative fuel is produced from sugar cane and other crops such as corn, cassava, sweet sorghum.

Eastern Petroleum, which is primarily into the retail petroleum business, has a number of cassava plantations nationwide including Zambales in Luzon and General Santos City and Saranggani province in Mindanao.

The oil firm's entry into feedstock development was brought about by the passage of the Biofuels Act of 2006, which mandated all engine fuels to have a minimum blend of biofuels to be derived from indigenous crops.

Because of this, energy consultancy firm Merritt Partners reported last year that domestic demand for ethanol would reach more than 300 million liters this year. This is expected to rise to 664 million liters by 2011 and 713 million liters by 2013.

At present, however, only two ethanol plants using sugarcane as feedstock with a capacity of less than 50 million liters per year have been put up by the private sector to feed oil firms' demand, forcing most of them to import their supply.

The Eastern Petroleum official said that once the oil firm's target is reached, it would be able to produce enough ethanol to supply local biofuel requirements.

"We need 10,000 hectares to process it for ethanol . . . not only for Eastern, it is more than enough for us. That's good for 30 million liters," he said.

Martinez added that the company has already completed studies for its plan to put up ethanol plants that will process cassava into the alternative fuel.

Initially, Eastern Petroleum is eying to put up a facility with a 100,000-liter capacity, which is projected to cost about $25 million.

Martinez said that the company is open to possible partnerships with other investors for its proposed ethanol processing plant.

"We are open to other parties. We have done complete studies and we are now in the feasibility preparation stage for the ethanol plant itself," he said.

Source: The Manilla Times
trackingBy Euan Paulo C. Anonuevo, The Manila Times, Philippines

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Cassava to the new menu as a staple foodassava to the new menu as a staple food

In a bid to help prevent a food crisis, state logistics firm Perum Bulog is trying to diversify cassava to become a viable substitute staple food, officials said Thursday.

Bulog president director Mustafa Abubakar said Bulog's interest in promoting cassava as an alternative staple had already drawn the attention of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"Cassava is a strategic alternative commodity that is taken seriously by the private sector and people in general," he told a press conference in Jakarta.

"Likewise, cassava has drawn our attention, and, apparently, that of IFAD president Kanayo [Nwanze], too."

IFAD is a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.

Mustafa said he had expressed Bulog's vision on cassava to the international agency during the 32nd IFAD governing council meeting in Rome from Feb. 18-19.

During the meeting, Bulog proposed the need for IFAD's assistance in developing cassava as it sought to support the country's goal in food diversification, Mustafa said.

"IFAD has programs [to develop cassava] in Africa and has a number of experts whom we hope will come [to Indonesia] soon," he said.

"By that time, [Bulog] will have learned the possibilities of engaging in cooperation [with IFAD]."

He added cassava could serve as an emergency non-rice food commodity and thus was suitable for ready-to-serve food in disaster-prone or food-scarce areas.

"[Processed] cassava can inflate to four times larger than instant noodle when submerged in water," he said.

Cassava can be processed to yield modified cassava flour (mocaf), noodles, bread, donuts, snacks and crackers, he said.

"Therefore, we likely need research on cassava more than anything else."

Bulog research and development head Suharno said the state institution had been involved for more than a year in research into the tuber, together with several cassava-processing companies, including PT Tiga Pilar in Solo, West Java.

"At present, Bulog only facilitates companies in developing the cassava market, connecting producers to consumers," he said.

One company in Central Java has already planned to export modified cassava flour to the Philippines.

"That's because snack consumption is quite big in that country," Suharno pointed out.

He also said China had placed special orders for cassava from a company in Kalimantan.

The cassava market, he went on, was promising, with domestic consumption of tapioca reaching more than half of the 15 million tons of annual cassava production.

Indonesia's main cassava-growing area is in Lampung.

"Actually, there are also a million hectares of idle peatlands that can be planted with cassava," Suharno said.

However, he admitted that national cassava productivity only reached about 15 tons per hectare, while it was possible to attain yields of up to 50 tons or even 100 tons per hectare.

The development of cassava in the country is expected to involve the Agriculture Ministry as well.

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Small and nice cafe

I Have an opportunity helping my friend open his new cafe, small cafe nice place to hang around, the location it self close with central district area, which has many different customer, first I started to arranged the lobby which has a small sofa in it place at the corner I just put there wine pot racks - enclume pot racks and it’s consist 12 botle of wine

Since he asked me to arranged with the home atmosphere, then I have an idea to put also free standing tier cookware stand – enclume pot rack – and it’s consist 5 cook ware just to give warm ambiance , and the result is when we entering this room the atmosphere like almost a warm living room

Well the cafĂ© also open for lunch time and still one room that need to touch up and he suggest to put an enclume bakers cart – enclume potrack to give a small decoration an we can put several bread and honey surrounding, well it seems the decoration thing not so difficult when we talked about small cafe, I hope you love it to join and become my loyal customer

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Bioplastics need laws and funding

Thailand has the potential to compete and become a leader in bioplastic production but legislation and funding are needed to boost the scale of production.

"With an investment of 70 billion baht across the bioplastic production chain, we would see a yearly return of 200 billion baht," said Dr Wantanee Chongkum, director of the innovation department of the National Innovation Agency (NIA).

"Compared to other applications, making bioplastic from agricultural goods is the most profitable. Cassava can be made into bioplastic with a return of more than 20 baht per kilogramme, compared to 25 satang for cassava oil. We should be exporting finished products, not raw materials."

Domestically, building the production facilities requires a large amount of investment while the demand for bioplastics in Thailand is still small.

"We are in a research phase. Economic analysis needs to be conducted properly in order to determine the costs of switching from normal plastic to bioplastic," said Dr Wantanee.

In order to spur the growth of the bioplastics industry, suitable policies must be developed.

"We need to implement a policy that is suitable for Thai consumers' behaviour," she said.

For example, many Thais already separate their food waste into plastic bags before discarding it with the trash.

"If these bags were biodegradable, then we could use them for fertiliser production like they do in Japan," she elaborated.

Rising public concern over the effects of global climate change has been an important catalyst for business operators to start using bioplastic, whether to enhance their image or out of genuine concern.

The growing demand could improve the economies of scale for production with the implication that the industry would become more commercially viable.

In fact, large companies such as Nokia, Sony and Mitsubishi are already manufacturing products with bioplastic components as a marketing gimmick.

"Luxury items such as phones, radios and cars can absorb the higher prices of bioplastic, whereas plastic bags cannot," said Somsak Borrisuttanakul, president of the Thai Bioplastic Industry Association. He sees the future of bioplastics shifting away from packaging, where it is now largely concentrated.

Mr Somsak urges the government to invest further in the development of bioplastic, and come up with adequate green policies to diversify and increase the usage of bioplastics in Thailand.

"In Europe, the growth of demand for bioplastics is around 20% per year," said Assoc Prof Dr Songsri Kulpreecha of the Faculty of Science of Chulalongkorn University at a recent seminar on developing the local bioplastics industry.

The university invested 15 million last year and will be investing more than 30 million baht this year in machinery to test bioplastics.

"Ninety-five to 98% of bioplastic packaging produced in Thailand is for direct export. Even within Thailand, sales are mainly to clients who export to companies requiring biodegradable packaging," said Teerawat Teeraphatpornchai, business development manager of Advance Packaging Co Ltd.

Nonetheless, the company, predicting the profitability of the market within five years, has invested five million baht in trial raw materials.

It is considering investing another five million in developing bioplastics with the aim of seeing whether their properties are suitable for the Thai packaging market, such as moisture-resistant and breathable plastics.

While consumers' knowledge centres mainly on packaging and convenience, supermarket customer Darai Thirawat said, "Convenience is important - but if there were two retailers offering the same products in the same mall, but one used biodegradable bags and the other did not, then I would choose the one that offered the biodegradable option.

"It may be a small trend now, but young people will get involved, and eventually, it will become a movement, as in western countries," she added.

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USAID Spends $5.3 Million on African Cassava Output

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, is funding a $5.3 million cassava project in sub-Saharan Africa to raise output of the root crop in seven countries

The project aims to increase output by 30 percent and promote the use of cassava, a potato-like vegetable, to counter high food prices in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture said in an e- mailed statement today.

USAID will provide high-yielding cassava varieties to 395,000 farmers, according to the Ibadan, Nigeria-based agency.

Cassava provides a basic daily source of dietary energy to millions of people in Africa. The roots are processed into a wide variety of products such as chips and flour, or are consumed boiled or raw. In most cassava-growing countries in Africa, the leaves are also consumed as a green vegetable, which provides protein and vitamins A and B.

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