African nations to adopt biofuel models from State

 Models or prototypes of biofuels developed six years ago by the Karnataka State Biofuel Development Board (KSBDB) are being adopted by certain African nations under a programme by the United Nations through the World Agroforestry Council (WAC).

The models are aimed at empowering farmers.

State government, however, is lending minimal support to the models. Speaking at a press conference here to announce the national conference on Accelerating Biofuel Programmes in India on February 22, A K Monnappa, Managing Director of KSBDB, said: “It has been observed that similar agricultural situations prevail in Asia and Africa. Some African countries such as Mozambique have decided to espouse the multi-species cultivation approach model, unlike the Karnataka government, which promotes the single-species cultivation approach.”

Fuel crops

“The Hasiru Honnu and Baradu Bangara models, which are already in use, encourage farmers to grow oil seeds along the borders of farmlands and wastelands. They also ask them to cultivate fuel crops in addition to agricultural crops. These seeds are then collected and sold at standardised rates,” he said, while pointing out that the recent budget had made provisions for 10 per cent biofuel to be blended in automobiles, compared with the earlier five per cent.

MoU to be signed

The KSBDB and the WAC will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard. African nations will set up information and infrastructure development organisations, which will have a capacity to generate 100 litres of biodiesel a day.

Asked about the slow growth of biofuel in India, Divakar Rao of Vision Group on Biotechnology, Government of Karnataka, said: “The KSBDB is only a facilitator. The board functions through NGOs. The mindset of the people and lack of adequate funding from the government have delayed the implementation of various models. Recommendations from the national conference will be sent to the Government of India for implementation.”

Meanwhile, the KSBDB is striving to increase production of oil seeds in the State by encouraging farmers, especially in the districts of Bijapur, Bagalkot, Davangere, Chitradurga and Tumkur. The board would also seek the help of the Indian Railways.

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