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Sugar farmers back bioethanol industry

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With farmers looking to maximize profits for their harvest of sugarcane farming communities in Batangas came out in droves to attend the Farmers Festival for Bioethanol held in Sta. Teresita this province.

The sugarcane industry, one of the biggest agricultural sectors in the country, was given a new lease on life when the Biofuels Act of 2006, which requires petrol companies to include a 10% bioethanol mix into their products, was enacted into law.

Noberto Segunial Jr., a representative of the local sugar farming community in Sta. Teresita, Batangas, was looking forward to how the Bioethanol industry can help boost profits and productivity, especially to small-scale farmers.

Small-scale farmers comprise more than half of the sugarcane industry. According to Segunial, 57% of sugarcane farmers own less than five hectares each. “Given that more than half of the farmers own small patches of land, we need to adapt methods that increase production-per-hectare,” he explained. “And to be able to do that, we must look for alternative uses for our yields. We must look to bioethanol plants as a new source of demand and revenue,” he continued.

To help with this need, Cavite Biofuel Producers, Inc. (CBPI) will be building a state-of-the-art Bioethanol plant in neighboring Magallanes, Cavite, to which the farmers can directly sell raw materials for bioethanol production. Aside from additional profits from selling to CBPI, farmers will also get support from the former’s sister company, Bukid Verde, Inc. (BVI), which is a corporate farming entity.

While BVI also produces sugarcane, it does so “cooperatively, not competitively,” according to Job Ambrosio, CEO of Bioeq Energy, the mother company of CBPI and BVI. “Our production is only there to provide additional supply for the Bioethanol plant, but we’ll be sourcing most of our raw materials from the surrounding farms in Cavite and Batangas,” he explained.

BVI’s resources will also be available for small-scale farmers to be able to maximize their yields. The company has 45 tractors available for rent for farmers who need it. They’re also supporting the farmers through their Research and Development, one of which resulted in a breed of disease-free sugar seedlings. Samples of these seedlings were given to the farmers in attendance at the event. BVI will also be teaching modern farming techniques to improve productivity.

Segunial expressed gratitude to CBPI, BVI, and other investors in the Bioethanol industry. “This new market gave more demand, and therefore more incentive to go into the sugarcane business,” he said. “The demand it created, and the support given to us through technologies and equipment, surely made for a more profitable sugarcane industry, especially to the small farmers,” he concluded.

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