Burma/Myanmar

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Information about biofuels and bioenergy in Myanmar/Burma. (Note: Myanmar, officially the Union of Myanmar, is also known as Burma or the Union of Burma. For more information see Wikipedia.)

Contents

Events

Issues/Policies

  • Burma has announced a plan to replace all of its 40,000 barrels per day of conventional oil imports with a homegrown nut oil (jatropha curcas).
  • Although official statistics are difficult to come by, the plan seems to involve the following:
    • to grow 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of jatropha curcas within three years, on centrally planned plantations;
    • to grow jatropha curcas on all major military batallion sites, with the resulting biodiesel to be used by the military;
    • to encourage individual rural villages to create protective hedges around their fields, using jatropha (as the plant is poisonous, it fends off grazing animals that may damage crops - it makes a good shrub for natural hedges); and
    • to involve so-called 'social issue groups' in 'planting campaigns'.
  • Burma has a record of using force labor and there are reports that farmers are being forced to plant jatropha, and even pay for the seeds themselves1.
    • According to biopact.com 'social issue groups' are reminiscent of the soviet 'sovchoz' and have been used in the past by the regime as a means to exploit forced labor.)
  • According to some reports[1], as much as 7,000,000 acres is to be converted to jatropha production.

News

  • Coconut and mango waste could help power Asia 22 March 2012 by Syful Islam for SciDev.Net: "[DHAKA] Researchers in the United States say agricultural waste from coconut and mango farming could generate significant amounts of off-grid electricity for rural communities in South and South-East Asia."
  • "Many food crops have a tough, inedible part which cannot be used to feed livestock or fertilise fields. Examples of this material — known as ['endocarp'] — include coconut, almond and pistachio shells, and the stones of mangoes, olives, plums, apricots and cherries... Endocarp is high in a chemical compound known as lignin. High-lignin products can be heated to produce an energy-rich gas that can be used to generate electricity."
  • The researchers identified high-endocarp-producing regions of the world – and noted that coconut and mango agriculture account for 72 per cent of total global endocarp production. Coconut production alone accounted for 55 per cent... Most coconut endocarp comes from South and South-East Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • They then overlaid these findings with energy consumption data to identify communities with little access to electricity, who could benefit from endocarp-based energy.
  • [Tom] Shearin [co-author and a systems analyst at University of Kentucky] said endocarp was preferable to crop-based biofuels as it had no value as a food item. "Its exploitation as energy source does not compete with food production," he said. [2]
  • The Blunder Crop: a Biofuels Digest special report on jatropha biofuels development, 24 March 2009 by Biofuels Digest: SG Biofuels, Mission New Energy and GEM are being successful in developing jatropha projects, but "Well-organized efforts are in the minority. More typical: back-of-the-comic book jatropha seed and seedling marketers that prey on the hopes and fears of cash-strapped farmers; the farcical disaster that has developed in Myanmar’s national biofuels project; and a number of non-profits (some well-organized, some dreamy) running around in Haiti trying to save the country from deforestation with projects as small as one designed to provide heat and power to a local bakery."
    • "The problem? Countries like Myanmar that planned 8 million acres of jatropha and then forgot about harvesting technology, crushers, biodiesel processing or anything approaching a distribution system. The Result? Jatropha seeds rotting in Myanmar’s fields. The cure? Getting back to sound planning, extensive soil testing, and excellence in project management."[3]
  • Myanmar and Korean Companies to Produce Biodiesel, 6 November 2008 from the BioenergySite: Myanmar company Agri-Tech Ltd "has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)" with Enertech Co Ltd of South Korea "to build a biodiesel plant in Myanmar."
    • "The biodiesel, produced from the plant, will be supplied domestically and the surplus will be exported".
    • "The Myanmar agricultural authorities are also cooperating with Japanese institutions to produce high-grade biodiesel....Under Myanmar's Jatropha bioenergy programme, a joint venture company, the Myanmar Bio Energy Company, is being formed between the Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and Japan Development Institute (JDI) and Japan Bio Energy Development [Corporation] (JBEDC)."[4]
  • Yoma to venture into bio-diesel in Myanmar, 31 October 2006 from the The Business Times Singapore. "Property developer Yoma Strategic Holdings - which recently became the first Myanmar play on the Singapore Exchange - already has plans to go into the bio-diesel industry in Myanmar. Mr Pun said that Yoma hopes to venture into the upstream part of bio-fuel production by developing a jatropha curcas plantation in Myanmar."
  • Biodiesel in Burma: A friendly Alternative?, 5 September 2006 from Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) and www.narinjara.com. The military junta in Burma (Myanmar) has begun implementing a plan to convert 7,000,000 acres of land to jatropha cultivation by 2009. The decisions was put into force without any prior announcement and many farmers were reportedly being forced to plant the crop. The government's ability to actually produce biodiesel at that scale is also in doubt as "economic sanctions mean that Burma, unlike India, lacks the financial and technical support of foreign companies like BP so necessary to the success of a venture of this magnitude". However, the article reported that "In Chin state, the death penalty is already in place for anyone daring to criticize the policy on Jatropha."

Organizations

Companies

  • Z.G.S. Bioenergy (See company profile at Alibaba.com) - Since June 2007, this company been involved in jatropha plantation projects in Northern Shan State to sell jatropha seeds locally and internationally.

Regional organizations

Reports

  • Biofuel by Decree (PDF file) -- Report by the Ethnic Community Development Forum (ECDF); addresses the national jatropha planting program and related issues of "forced labor, land confiscation, loss of income and food insecurity."[5]



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