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PIA Press Release

3.3-M mt tons of rice hull eyed as power source

by Romy Sabaldan

Davao City (19 July) -- OUT of the 15 million metric tons of rice produced annually in this country, 3.3 million of that produce is the lowly rice hull which can actually be recycled in the form of energy through one big shift in agricultural technology called the Biomass.

This was revealed Wednesday by Director Leo Sebastian of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), one of the line agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA), agriculture specialists and foreign experts conducting the two-day 5th National Grains Postproduction Conference at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, this city.

What the farmers burn or just throw as wastes can actually generate enough power to supply one big city, Director Sebastian said in the press conference attended by post harvest development specialists and science research experts and later on joined by agriculture secretary Arthur Yap who is also keynote speaker of the gathering.

This is a technology currently use with very efficient results in Europe, Dir. Sebastian said. We have done a feasibility study already and a link-up with reliable suppliers of equipment to apply this technology and benefit the farmers, Sebastian added.

He said applying our own low-cost technology is necessary considering that using foreign-made equipment is impractical.

Sebastian said a 10-megawatt supplying power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year would cost some P700-M using the lowly rice as the main component of this latest technology.

Secretary Yap through his spokesman said the biomass technology is also applicable in bananas.

The pseudo-stem or stalk of bananas after harvest of the fruit and cutting of the stalk is in itself a jump-off in biomass use to power the land into producing more bananas in the form of a fertilizer.

That is why it is called biomass or biological mass in the sense that application of the technology is not just for energy but also as fertilizer, according to Rodel Maghirang, High Value Commercial Crops specialist of the Department of Agriculture.

Another source of biomass is the coconut as alternative to petro-fuel, according to Dr. Luis Rey Velasco, Chancellor of the University of the Philippines, Los Banos.

The two-day (18-19 July 2007) national conference has for its theme: "Biomass Utilization for Profitability and Environmental Sustainability." (PIA XI) [top]

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