Biofuels not cause of food price hike, PNOC-AFC says
Tacloban City (March 9) -- The Philippines' biofuels program will not affect food production, much less cause food price hike, Dr. Renato S. Velasco, Chairman of the PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation, told the media in a press conference upon his arrival at the Tacloban Airport VIP Lounge Saturday morning.
While it is true that the worldwide biofuels program has generated a food versus fuel debate because of the setting aside of more land for planting biofuel crops that has affected food production, the scenario in the Philippines is completely different.
"The country is promoting jathropa as a biodiesel feedstock, it is non-edible, in fact many people believe it is poisonous, so the promotion of biofuels in the country will not compete with producers of rice, corn, fruits, vegetable and livestock, nor will it affect food production," Chairman Velasco said.
Dr. Velasco added, "Jatropha isn't food. The issue over diverting food to fuel does not apply in this instance. That is the biggest advantage of jatropha. It is unlike other feedstocks which are also vegetable oils and cosmetics bases such as rapeseed, palm, sunflower, soy and linseed. And this is why PNOC-AFC is betting on this miracle seed, first and foremost for our country's energy independence. Food and fuel security can go hand in hand."
"We do not entice land-owners and farmers to shift from food production to jathropa farming since jathropa can grow on idle lands or denuded hills" Secretary Velasco continued.
The use of alternative fuel sources like Jathropa is being promoted as solution to three problems of the country, Chairman Velasco enthused. First, it is seen as a solution to the ever increasing energy fuel which is being imported abroad. The economists foresee that the price of energy fuels will no longer go back to the price in the 90's, he said.
The second reason is global warming which is the result of not protecting the environment from pollutants from smoke emitted by diesel fed vehicles. The use of biodiesel will eliminate these pollutants in the air.
Thirdly, the use of jathropa and other alternative fuels will provide the people an alternative livelihood opportunity. Jathropa farming, Chairman Velasco said, is labor intensive and will provide employment to a great number of Filipinos.
Dr. Velasco calls on the local government units and farmers in Region 8 to utilize their idle land in planting jathropa and help solve the country's problems on high prices of fuels, global warming and poverty and unemployment.
Dr. Velasco together with Professor Rodolfo Visco and Mr. Dennis Ting of the PNOC-AFC went to Basey, Samar to observe the jathropa production initiatives in that part of the Region. (PIA 8) [top]