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Thai to Produce Bio-diesel up to 3 bil.Litres by 2012
BANGKOK (WAM) - The Thai government plans to promote more plantations of oil palms to increase the country's capacity of bio-diesel production up to three billion litres a year over the next seven years, according to Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Mrs. Sudarat told Thailand News Agency (TNA) that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives had planned to promote more oil palm production across the country up to seven million rai (2.5 rai = 1 acre) by the year 2012.

The oil palms would then be used to produce bio-diesel, a type of alternative energy, which could reduce Thailand's reliance on imported oil, she noted.

The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, expects that the targeted seven million rai oil palm production will help increase the country's capacity of bio-diesel production to 8.5 million litres per day, or 3.1 billion litres annually, by the year 2012, which will not only reduce the country's reliance on imported oil, but also save its revenue from imported oil by up to Bt35 billion, she disclosed.

The Department of Agriculture has been assigned to work out the project in details, including the zoning of the oil palm plantations, a study on comparative economic advantages to local farmers between oil palms and other crops and a plan on developing strong oil palm strains.

The department is due to submit its studies to the minister by the end of April.

According to an initial study, the targeted seven million rai of oil palm plantation will cover areas in the country's southern, eastern, northeastern and central regions.

Mrs. Sudarat conceded that part of the plantations might have to cover areas in neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, in the form of 'contrated farming' by which the final produce would be sent to Thailand.

Local farmers joining in the project were expected to secure more incomes of around Bt3,243 per rai, compared to what they were earning from other less economic advantaged crops, Mrs. Sudarat said






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