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PIA Press Release
2007/09/01

Ifugao town to cultivate jathropha

Alfonso Lista, Ifugao (1 September) -- To increase farmer's income and in support to the national government's development of renewable energy, the local government unit here will start propagating Jatropha curcas locally known as 'tagumbao'.

Jatropha curcas also called physic nut, is used to produce the non-edible Jatropha oil for making candles and soap, and as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel. The cakes remaining after the oil is pressed can be used as feed in digesters and gasifiers to produce biogas for cooking and in engines, or the cakes can be used for fertilizing, and sometimes even as animal fodder.

Municipal Mayor Charles Cattiling disclosed that they are starting the cultivation of this genus in his municipality with the hope of putting up a biodeisel refinery in the future.

Cattiling informed that during a recent seminar he attended, a commitment for a grant was offered by the Japan Government and the Philippine Councils for Agricultural Research and Development (PICARD) for this purpose.

With the plant growing well in the area and with no much needed maintenance, the mayor intends to promote it to farmers in his municipality to plant in vast idle lands or in between corn fields.

This when developed is not just an excellent tool for real sustainable development but great for developing countries in terms of jobs and energy because it holds enormous potentials to farmers.

Catilling hopes their local farmers will give intent attention and interest to this.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here claims that jatropha curcas has been used by the Ifugao folks for fencing since time immemorial.

Nestor Baccay, Assistant Chief of the Forest Production Utilization of the DENR here said that the plant which easily thrives in the province is commonly seen in fencing the pigpens, farms and pasturelands.

Baccay also said that jatropha called "magic tree" because it was discovered as a source of biofuel, is being used by Ifugao folks in the olden times to produce fire using the seeds which have an oily substance.

"Little did our folks know that this specie can free the country from being dependent on expensive imported crude oil," he said.

Baccay shared that when the government thru the DENR launched the Green Philippines program last year, their office planted about 30 jatropha curcas along the national road instead of the germelina. The specie is only 6 to 7 feet tall thus it will not reach the electric lines which is the common problem of the local electric office here, he said.

"Jatropha which is considered as a shrub can be propagated through cuttings or planting the seeds," Baccay said.

With the new developments that the said specie can produce oil, the local Agriculture Office here is now trying to encourage farmers to utilize marginal lands by planting Jatropha.

Avelino Lunag, of the Provincial Agriculture Office here said that the tagumbao is commonly seen in pasture lands because it can be used as fence, the leaves can be used for castration, snake repellant and biofuel.

"It has high resistance to drought that's why it can tribe easily even in warm places such as pasturelands," he said.

Ignacio Baniya, the Municipal Agriculturist of the municipality of Asipulo, on the other hand, disclosed that his office thru the help of a Peace Corps volunteer distributed five kilos of jatropha seeds donated by the Forest Corporation based in Manila to farmers in Asipulo last February this year.

Having planted about 2,000 jathropa last year, he observed that it takes one year for the seeds to grow and the cuttings will only take eight months. (PIA-Ifugao) [top]

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