Ninh Thuan Press Release Pham Rang Ninh Thuan Province
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Ninh Thuan Press Release Pham Rang – Ninh Thuan Province Under the decree no 177/2007/QD-TTg issued on 20/11/2007 by the Deputy prime minister Hoang Trung Hai (Approval of the Project of bio fuel development till 2015 with vision till 2025), and the decision of MARD no 1842/QD-BNN-LN on 19/06/2008 (approval of the program of research, development and usage of jatropha curcas in Vietnam in the period of 2008-2015 and vision till 2025), this last week in Pham Rang over 60 government officials from 8 provinces met with Vietnamese Biodiesel producer GreenEnergy, Vietnam, J.S.C. (GEV) to promote the large scale cultivation of the second generation biofuel plant – jatropha curcas. Ex Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Cong Tan, Dr. Pham Duc Tuan - Deputy director of DoF and Mr. Hua Duc Nhi – Deputy Minister of MARD, Ministries of Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, as well officers from DARD, DPI, Provincial PCs as well as NGOs and commercial entities from all over Vietnam met to discuss the prime ministerial decree which made the plantation of jatropha curcas a priority in the country’s energy plan. The decree declares that Vietnam should target to plant 300,000 hectares of jatropha over the next three to five years. Green Energy has commercial goals of approximately 25,000-50,000 hectares in the same period, which will result in the planting of over 40-80 million trees by GreenEnergy alone. Jatropha curcas, a small tree common throughout Vietnam, is widely regarded throughout the world as a second generation biofuel crop since it answers many of the problems that plague other biofuel crops such as palm oil, sugar cane and corn. First generation biofuels have been criticized for putting upward pressure on food prices (as farmers substitute fuel crops for food crops), using more petroleum than they offset and their establishment can cause de-forestation if planted in diverse ecological zones. Jatropha curcas, however, flourishes on marginal lands with minimum rainfall. This means that unproductive or waste lands can be utilized to grow fuel while productive lands continue to produce food crops, thereby reducing pressure on food prices while delivering new income. Since jatropha prefers an arid ecology, lands under consideration for its production are typically barren or tree-less. Furthermore, its plantation is an excellent windbreak to fight desertification and it actively rejuvenates poor soils. Socially, the rural families who live on the marginal lands preferred for jatropha often are without much economic opportunity. Farmer incomes for the production of jatropha (approx. $800 to $1,000/ha.) mean that rural families in marginal areas can earn incomes once only possible by migrating to the cities to work in factories or construction. For government officials this is a double benefit, raising rural incomes and relieving infrastructure stress in the cities. These attributes of jatropha to turn unproductive lands into productive ones, rejuvenate marginal soils, deliver opportunity to the poorest regions have made it the darling of developing countries like India, China and Indonesia where there are millions of hectares under plantation already. The Vietnamese government has awakened to jatropha’s potential as well. GreenEnergy and the Center for Biotechnology in Forestry (a research arm of the Forestry Department of MARD) have entered a joint project to develop the promise of jatropha in Vietnam. GreenEnergy is establishing a 100 hectare jatropha research in Ninh Thuan and has planted experimental trial station in ten other provinces for field test of multiple varieties of Jatropha. Attendees of the conference in Pham Rang visited the agro-station site, two trial plots already under plantation in different areas of Ninh Thuan as well the nursery operation which is nurturing some 180,000 trees for plantation this month. GreenEnergy is Vietnam’s First Mover in commercial scale jatropha production and biodiesel. It has been refining waste oil for over three years in HCMC, where it utilizes Vietnamese designed and built equipment to produce biodiesel meeting Vietnamese and EU standard biodiesel. GreenEnergy recently entered a partnership with the Australian public company, Jatoil. Jatoil raised almost $15 million in 2008 specifically for investment in jatropha-based ventures like GreenEnergy. Jatoil also provides an international network of agronomic and technical experts who will help train farmers and co-ops in the large scale cultivation of jatropha. GreenEnergy plans to purchase its jatropha feedstocks from Vietnamese planters with whom they will enter into guaranteed contracts for the purchase of the tree’s seeds over long periods of time. In fact, this month marks the first signatories of contracted farmers in Ninh Thuan. GreenEnergy is delivering free saplings, technical know-how and a cash payment to help farmers to offset establishment costs. The agro-station in Ninh Son district will become a ‘center of excellence’ for the cultivation of jatropha, offering training, demonstration and support for farmers. Mr. Le Duc Huy, of the Center for Biotechnology in Forestry says, “Jatropha offers rural Vietnamese a chance to participate in the world petroleum market, with rising prices and assured demand for their product. It’s unique opportunity for them to join a win/win relationship with a reputable commercial entity by producing a new and viable cash crop that helps the environment and keeps Vietnamese Dong in Vietnam rather than the Middle East. Since by its nature jatropha cultivation is a long term business, GreenEnergy is committed to helping the rural economies where its planting partners live and work. That is one of the main reasons CBF, MARD and Department of Forestry have joined in this project.” Phuong Thi Kim Tang, President of GreenEnergy says that “being a for-profit corporation is a lot more satisfying when there are so many benefits to spread amongst all stakeholders. GreenEnergy intends to be here for a long time, planting millions of trees and delivering clean fuel and economic opportunity to all Vietnamese”.