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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        16  May 2011

Making fuel from cassava in Vietnam

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Targeting a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels, Vietnam has rolled out a number of projects to produce ethanol from dried cassava that can be mixed with petrol.

But this has had a negative impact on the sugar industry since, in the 2010-2011 crop, a ha of cassava has doubled in price since the last crop to VND35 million (US$1,700). This has prompted farmers to switch en masse from sugarcane to cassava, according to Nguyen Quoc Huan, an analyst at the Sacombank Investment Joint Stock Company.

The sugar industry is now facing a serious shortage of sugarcane as a result.

There are now six major ethanol plants totally producing 100 million litres a year. They require an average of 250,000 tonnes of dried cassava or 600,000 tonnes of fresh plant.

Viet Nam's bio-ethanol development plan for 2015 envisages production of 750 million litres, or 4.2 million tonnes of fresh cassava. That is without even considering the potential demand from China.

The problem becomes clear in Quang Ngai Province. Its agricultural development plan required cassava to be grown on 13,500ha by last year but in reality farmers grew the crop on more than 21,000ha. But yet they managed only to meet half the demand from ethanol factories in the province.

Area under sugarcane fell to 5,300ha from 7,350ha the previous year. This prompted the Quang Ngai Sugar Co to move its Quang Phu factory to Gia Lai Province in the Central Highlands.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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