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Monday July 10, 2006

The weekend of the 1st of July, President Yudhoyono, accompanied by a number of cabinet ministers, went for a retreat at the Losari Coffee Plantation Resort and Spa at Magelang, Central Java . Their purpose was to develop a national blue print on the production and distribution of bio-energy. 



Emerging from their retreat on Sunday, the President informed the press that the government is now preparing a masterplan for increased use of bio-energy, through the production of cassava and sugar cane for ethanol, and palm oil and castor oil for bio-fuel. Plantations for these are envisaged to cover between million hectares.



In order to supply the nation with sufficient alternative energy, five steps must be taken, said the President. There are: firstly, identify areas for such plantations. Secondly, prepare processing plants to convert these produce into fuel; third, the necessary infrastructure must be built. When infrastructure is to be entirely the responsibility of the government then funds will be taken from the Annual Budget, if not, that these can be sourced through public-private partnership. Fourthly, market volume and size must be clear; and fifthly, when funds may not be sourced from the Budget, then a partnership scheme must be devised involving both domestic as well as international partners.



By developing alternative energy, this will increase domestic production, thus reduce the need for more fuel imports, especially considering today’s prohibitive oil prices.  Such scheme will increase employment on a considerably large scale. Furthermore, hitherto infertile land may be made productive when planted with different kinds of bio-energy resources, and thus stem urbanization.




From the technical point of view, Industry Minister, Fahmi Idris explained that ethanol is a byproduct of sugar cane, but this can also be obtained when processed from cassava, maize or similar agricultural produce.  Today, most economical for is the production of castor oil for bio-fuel, since palm oil is still ’s main export commodity.



The task now is how to produce bio-energy in sufficient volume, how many tons of castor oil kernels will be needed and how many thousands of hectares of plantations are required. All this will be worked out by his Department.



Nevertheless, production has allready started, undertaken by both the government as well as well as the private sector. These are, among others, in the provinces of East Nusatenggara and West Nusatenggara , where planting has begun as well as production.



The Department of Industry has been given the task to build eight plants to process both castor oil and raw palm oil. Four plants with a capacity of 6,000 tons will be built each year, while four others with a capacity of 300 tons each are still in the technical planning stage.



“Today, the government is identifying areas where to locate the processing plants in areas best suited to the specifications required. Possible islands sites are Sumatra , Java, Sulawesi or Kalimantan ”, said Minister Fahmi Idris as reported by Kompas.



(Sources; Bisnis , Kompas)                                                                 (Tuti Sunario)