Brazil’s Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, was in Crateús, state of Ceará, in the Brazilian Northeast, yesterday, to inaugurate a factory that will produce a vegetable oil from castor-oil plants.
The output from the Rio Poty Crushing Unit will be added to diesel fuel as part of the National Biodiesel Program. The goal of the program is to have 200,000 low-income families in Brazil’s semi-arid region, where Ceará is located, participating by the year 2006.
“Biodiesel is a strategic priority for the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration because it will reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuels while creating income for Brazilians,” explained the Minister.
Rossetto added that because poor families were being encouraged to cultivate castor-oil plants along with traditional crops, such as Brazilian beans and corn, there was no danger the program would create a monoculture.
Minister of Mines and Energy, Dilma Rousseff, announced recently that Brazil would begin using a 2% additive of vegetable oil in its diesel fuel next year as part of its national biodiesel program. The idea is to be using a 5% vegetable oil additive by the year 2012.
Where will the vegetable oil come from? Rousseff says that castor bean oil is an example of the way one solution can solve various problems. Because castor beans grow in the country’s semi- arid region, their production will give the region a boost, reducing social exclusion there. It is also a non-polluting source of energy.
The minister said that in some place, such as Germany, there were studies on the possibility of using only vegetable oils for fuel. In Brazil, the idea is to begin using the mix in urban buses.
“Brazil needs to grow at 4.5% a year. In order to do that we need a trustworthy source of energy. We can have that with our hydroelectric power plants and alternative sources,” said Rousseff.
Translator: Allen Bennett