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Philippine oil company sets aside 26 mln dlrs for biofuel plantations

by Staff Writers
Puerto Princesa, Philippines (AFP) March 28, 2008
The state-run Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) said Friday it has allocated 26 million dollars to establish plantations for jatropha -- a crop intended for biofuels.

The PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corp. (PNOC-AFC), the arm of the state company looking at finding alternative energy sources, said 1.1 billion pesos had been set aside but so far only 80 million pesos had been spent -- mainly for research and development of high-yielding jatropha seeds.

Speaking before an energy forum here in the western island of Palawan, PNOC-AFC chairman Renato Velasco said that their 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) of jatropha nurseries would produce its first harvest next year.

This harvest would be equivalent to 400 tonnes of crude oil, he said.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said the jatropha programme will help address the country's dependence on imported oil which remains high in world markets, adding that they were negotiating for the establishment of these plantations on idle land all over the country.

The Philippines is concentrating on jatropha because the plant can grow in soil unsuited for other crops.

Jatropha refers to a plant whose seeds can be processed to produce an oil that can be used for the production of biodiesel fuel.

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Biofuel boom threatens food supplies: Nestle
Zurich (AFP) March 23, 2008
Growing use of such crops wheat and corn to make biofuels is putting world food supplies in peril, the head of Nestle, the world's biggest food and beverage company, warned Sunday.

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