IICA supports the inclusion of agricultural producers in an initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture that seeks to use biomass to produce biofuels in the country.
San Jose, Costa Rica, 11 August, 2014 (IICA). The main objectives of discussions initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) with agricultural companies, energy authorities and regulators, with support from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), are the creation of a national commission for competitiveness and the drafting of strategic guidelines that would guide the development of biofuels in Costa Rica.
The first meeting took place at the headquarters of the Institute in San José, between representatives of the MAG, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP), the Costa Rican Oil Refinery (RECOPE) companies processing sugarcane, palm oil, jatropha curcas and other crops, whose biomass can be used to produce bioethanol, biodiesel or biogas.
“The country should review its energy matrix and include biomass; there are annual crops such as sugar and palm that would be appropriate for this. The work should be done with the farmers, since the biomass is theirs”, stated the Vice Minister of the MINAE, Irene Cañas.
According to Dagoberto Elizondo, manager of the National Biofuels Program of the MAG, Costa Rica’s goal is to reduce its oil bill and, within a decade, replace 5% of the gasoline and diesel that it consumes with bioethanol and biodiesel, respectively.
This objective was established via an executive decree in 2009 that tasked the MAG with the responsibility of promoting biomass production without compromising the nation’s food supply, said Elizondo, adding that MINAE, RECOPA and ARESEP would carry out other specific tasks in keeping with the nature of their functions.
“The political will to develop biofuels in Costa Rica has already been expressed, but it is the will of the agricultural producers that can stimulate the industry, a process that IICA can facilitate”, stated Miguel Ángel Arvelo, IICA Representative in Costa Rica.
Elizondo, of the MAG, stated that during the month of August, the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica could discuss draft legislation on biofuels promoted by the Government, since during this month, the Executive Branch sets the parliamentary agenda.
The executive president of the National Federation of Palm Oil Producers (FEDEPALMA) of Colombia, Jens Mesa Dishington, participated in the initial meeting in the process of discussions on biofuels in Costa Rica, and presented the progress of this industry in his country, especially in the manufacture and marketing of biodiesel from palm.
Colombia has the productive capacity to produce 580,000 tons of palm biodiesel annually, distributed to eight factories, of which six belong to associations of producers of this plant.
“The greatest asset of the biofuel projects is agriculture itself. The producers are the first to be called upon to implement these initiatives, more than other investors, so that they can add value to their own companies”, said Mesa.
Among the factors of success of the National Biofuels Plan of Colombia, the executive president of FEDEPALMA mentioned political will, sound technical standards, the quality of the product, the strength of the producers’ associations, confidence building between all the players in the chain and environmental sustainability of the biofuel industry.
Interview (Spanish only)