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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quantum Group to invest US$250 million in 4 ethanol plants, 100,000ha in Sumba; 60,000 jobs for poor local farmers

According to the Jakarta Post, the Quantum Group of Australia will invest up to US$250 million to develop 100,000 hectares of land in East Nusa Tenggara to grow cassava, as well as to set up four ethanol processing plants. The project is expected to provide employment to as many as 60,000 local farmers in one of Indonesia's most impoverished and underdeveloped regions. A memorandum of understanding between Quantum Petroleum, a subsidiary of Quantum Group, and the Southwest Sumba administration was signed Wednesday.

Quantum chief executive officer Ralph Michael said the firm would start building the first plant in the fourth quarter of this year, while construction would commence on the other three by the middle of next year. The firm will invest around US$200 million for building the four plants and US$50 million for the plantations.

The 100,000 hectares of plantations would produce at least 20 million tons of cassava, or five million tons of sweet potato. From that yield, a processing plant could produce 100,000 metric tons (approximately 132 million liters/33.1 million gallons) of bioethanol per year.

Cassava, or manioc, is a starch-rich tuber crop that thrives well in relatively poor soils and requires modest inputs (water, fertilizer). Ethanol made from the crop has been found to be a fuel with a favorable energy balance, making it an efficient biofuel (earlier post).

Poverty alleviation
According to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), one of the CGIAR institutions, a cassava-based ethanol industry could, with a combined effort from the science and policy community, launch a rural renaissance that would benefit the poorest people across Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (previous post). Likewise, the UN's FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) think developing countries could be ripe for a 'cassava industrial revolution' yielding vast new market and employment opportunities (more here).

It seems like Quantum's project is proving this, at least when it comes to job creation. According to Michael, the venture will employ around 60,000 local farmers to work on the plantations and expects to spend at least US$5 million for their wages each month. The Sumba administration is said to be very supportive, because this project will create employment for the local community.
We will support [the project] by providing the facilities they may need. This project will have a positive effect on the local economy. - Emanuel B. Eha, regent of Sumba
East Nusa Tenggara is one of Indonesia's poorest provinces. According to the World Resources Institute and the World Bank, the incidence of poverty on the island group was between 40 and 60 per cent at the beginning of the decade (map, click to enlarge).

The island of Sumba counts around 550,000 inhabitants, with the majority of the labor force employed in agriculture. The 60,000 projected jobs in the new biofuel venture could offer opportunities for 20 per cent of all of Sumba's farmers. The project is therefor seen as having a potentially major beneficial impact on poverty alleviation:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In a bid to streamline business activities in the underdeveloped province, Quantum suggested the local administration improve infrastructure. Yoseph Wijaya, commercial director of PT Anugrah Kurnia Abadi, Quantum's Indonesian partner, has asked the local administration to develop necessary infrastructure such as expanding the airport runway. Anugrah has only a 5 percent share in the joint venture.

Sumba regent Emanuel B. Eha said the administration would fully support the business, and pledged to improve business infrastructure. Aside from biofuel business, Quantum is also planning to plant vegetables and breed Australian cattle.

Indonesia is the second country after Bulgaria where Quantum has invested in bioenergy development projects. Quantum is also interested to take over palm oil plantations and oil palm processing plants from other local companies.

Quantum originally planned to invest in the bioethanol project in Malaysia six months ago. However, the company decided to shift its operations to Indonesia because of unfavorable regulations set out by the Malaysian authorities.

Map: Indonesia and East Timor - incidence of poverty (2000). Credit: World Resources Institute.

Jakarta Post: Quantum to invest US$250 million on biofuel developments in Sumba - February 14, 2008.

Biopact: First comprehensive energy balance study reveals cassava is a highly efficient biofuel feedstock - April 18, 2007

Biopact: CIAT: cassava ethanol could benefit small farmers in South East Asia -
September 24, 2007


Blogger rufus said...

120 gal/acre? That can't be right, can it? It seems like the poorest land should get two, or three times that much ethanol.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Jonas said...

Mm, yes, seems to be on the (very) low end. They said "at least", though. Well managed cassava should yield twice, thrice that.

They probably based their yield estimates on current data from the region. These could be very low indeed, because many poor cassava farmers don't use any modern input.

A problem is that this type of arcticles from newspapers, based on interviews, often contain errors. We've noticed this before. In any case, the company did not issue a press release, so we can only refer to the numbers used in the Jakarta Post.


12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jakarta post seem to have made a mistake in the numbers for develping the land.
Quantum planned to develop a plantation of 100,000 hectares of plantation of Cassava. This development would be necessary for the availability of feedstock for the Bio-Ethanol Plant, The plantation is with a new generation of cassava available to our corporation, which can yield 50 tons/hectare of cassava. The total yield of cassava shall be 5,000,000 metric ton per annum, Which is sufficient to put up 6 x 100,000 MT/per Annum of Bio-ethanol plant. Due to logistics for receiving and sorting out the cassava before processing, through our evaluation 100,000 MTPA plant shall be viable.
Bio-Ethanol Plant: We will construct 6 nos of 100,000MTPA Bio-Ethanol Plant for the total 100,000 hectors.

I hope we answered the question to your queries correctly and should you have any questions towards the contents stated herein, please email us on [email protected]


Dr. Ralph Michael
Cheif Executive Officer

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Okunade Karounwi the managing director (Operations) of Ologunebi growers and processors company LTD. from Nigeria.
As you know, Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava.
Organizations like yours could use cassava as their basic raw material and it can be gotten here at a very reduced rate and in ernomous quantity.
This will reduce your cost of production and increase profit. My organization has over 1600 acres of agricultural land for production and processing of these crops.we could supply you with cassava chips, pelletes,flour, chunky chips etc. other products like cocoa, maize, palm kernnel are also available in commercial quantity.

we are aready to cooperate and comply with your policies.
your orders could be met however you want it.
Please contact Okunade M.K on +2348028553627 or email: [email protected] for more information.
Thank you, I hope to hear from you soon,

2:59 PM  

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