By JING GODIO
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet —The Benguet Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has agreed to create a committee to look into the conservation and exploitation of the native petroleum nut (Pittosporum resineferum) for people in Benguet.
This after Dr. Michael Bengwayan, director of Pine Tree, the Cordillera Ecological Center, who on the invitation of the SP, explained to the SP members the potential of the petroleum nut as a biofuel and forestation material that acts as carbon sink to reduce global warming last November 2.
Bengwayan presented the results of Pine Tree’s research about the nut and tree. He said, the tree otherwise known as resin cheesewood is endemic to the Cordillera region and is a better biofuel with a 54% octane rating which is higher than that of Jatropha curcas which is currently being promoted by the national government.
He said extracted oil from the nut can be used for cooking when blended with kerosene and for lighting. He added that this will help in the reduction of global warming as the tree is a carbon sink and the cutting of trees for fuel will be minimized.
Petroleum nut grows abundantly in Benguet and the borders of Mountain Province, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya area. The tree is called apisang or abkel in Benguet, dael or dingo in Mountain Province and Sagaga in Abra. One tree could yield 15 kilograms of fruits, which could produce up to 80 cubic centilitres of oil.
Cultivation of the tree is effectively done by planting the cared seed. Seeds are air dried and cleaned using ash, which is the best material to remove the gummy substance wrapping the seeds. These seeds are sown in sterilized soil to get rid of harmful microorganisms.
Pine Tree has given seedlings to Kibungan, Kapangan Kayapa, Kabayan, Mt. Data of Mountain Province and as far as Bicol, Zambales and Bulacan. The propagation is for local consumption of rural communities.
Pine Tree is a a technical group which trains farmers and other interested groups but they are not qualified to handle its marketing due to the legal nature of the group. However, Bengwayan pointed out that the propagation, conservation and promotion should be a mutli-agency effort.
He added by informing the board of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. A carbon trading that the province could look into if they want to give incentives to people who are interested in plating the trees. A matter which the Vice Governor Cresencio Pacalso said that the province should study and act upon since it is not seen as an effort that any municipality will do on its own.
Bengwayan announced that on December, there will be an official launching on how the petroleum nut oil can run a small water pump. This is another manifestation on how high the potential of this tree as alternative source of energy. He informed the body that there have been numbers of international companies who showed their interest in this biofuel tree.
He emphasized that the benefits should first and foremost be given to the local communities. In which he added that the tree is at risk of biopiracy and appealed to the board to make a move in processing its patent, and make it under the Benguet Province.
Board member Nestor Dangwa proposed that the board form a natural resouce committee not only to look into patenting the petroleum nut but other endemic species in the province.
Advocating the propagation and conservation of the tree is part of Pine Tree’s program to develop local solutions for global environmental problems.# nordis.net