By Vicente Labro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — The Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) is planning to plant around 100 hectares of land in Leyte to jatropha, a source of alternative fuel.
Ralph Salazar, director of PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. (AFC), said their company has been looking for idle land in Leyte for its biofuel crop plantation project.
Salazar said the PNOC-AFC has been supporting Republic Act 9367, or the Biofuels Act of 2006, which was signed into law in January 2007.
The law mandates a one-percent locally sourced biodiesel blend in diesel fuel within three months from the time the law took effect, a five-percent locally sourced bioethanol blend in gasoline and two-percent biodiesel within two years, and a 10-percent bioethanol in 4 years.
According to Salazar, the PNOC-AFC aims to establish 700,000 hectares of biofuel crop plantations throughout the country by 2012.
Salazar, who hails from Leyte, said in Eastern Visayas, they initially established a 10-hectare jatropha plantation in Barangay (Village) Capinyahan in Naval town, Biliran province, planting around 25,000 jatropha seedlings early last week.
They would soon enter into a memorandum of agreement with a cooperative of 18 farmers in the village to care for the plants until the trees mature and bear fruit, which will then be sold to the government.
Over the next two years, or about the time it the jatropha seedlings to mature and bear fruit, the farmers will be given squash and corn seeds for intercropping. The produce will be bought by PNOC-AFC to ensure the farmers have a source of income and to ensure the sustainability of the project.
“We started in Biliran because the farmers are enthusiastic about the jatropha project,” he said.
Dr. Roberto Visco, PNOC-AFC operations manager, said they are planting the jatropha curcas variety and expect to harvest an average of eight tons of jatropha seeds per hectare.
PNOC-AFC1 – Director Ralph “Raffy” Salazaar (front, wearing hard hat) of the PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation shows the correct way of planting jatropha to farmers belonging to the Sitio San Juan Pinahan Multi-purpose cooperative in Barangay Pinahan, Naval, Biliran who initially planted 25,000 seedlings in a ten hectare land in the village.
Director Ralph “Raffy” Salazar (second from right) of the PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corp. hands over a seedling to a group of farmers belonging to the Sitio San Juan, Pinahan, Multipurpose Cooperative in Brgy. Pinahan, Naval, Biliran. The farmers initially planted 25,000 seedlings in a 10 hectare land in their village.