NIGERIA – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has partnered with the Government of Kebbi State in cultivating starchy crops on thousands of hectares of land for the production of ethanol.

A report by Punch Nigeria revealed that as a result of the partnership, 2,675 hectares of arable land in Kebbi State have already been put under Cassava (one of the main crops to be used in ethanol production) cultivation.

The ethanol project dates back to 2017 when The Nigerian National Petroleum Company signed an MoU with Kebbi state to cultivate 20,000 hectares of cassava and sugarcane in Kebbi for biofuel production.

The ethanol production project was jointly financed by the Kebbi State and NNPC to the tune of N1 billion (US$2.58 million).

5,000 hectares of land were later assigned to the project by the Kebbi State and were to be put under cultivation for the production of the necessary raw materials for ethanol production.

Under the agreement, Kebbi state government was required to provide up to 20,000 hectares for the scheme with NNPC for cassava and sugarcane, while the NNPC handles the other productions.

 “I wish to seize this opportunity to report to you that KBSG has met all its obligations under the MOU,” Kebbi state government committee on Biofuels Chairman, Prof. Mohammad Ka’oje stated.

Prof. Ka’oje further revealed that, it was agreed at a joint meeting of the partners that the state government should cultivate 5,000 hectares of cassava which will also form additional equity share for the state.

 “So far, 2,675 hectares have been cultivated and fully established. This is for the purpose of generating seedlings and raw material for a test run of the machinery,” he said.

He added that the NNPC would handle the land validation, feasibility studies, and soil testing and also interact with the necessary stakeholders to handle the project.

Ethanol is a biofuel is made by fermenting the sugars from plants such as corn or sugarcane used in the United States and Brazil as a biofuel.

Ethanol contains oxygen that helps a car’s engine burn fuel more efficiently, reducing air pollution.

Its use has rose to prominence in the recent past amid rising concerns of the effect of using fossil fuels on the environment.

In the U.S., where most ethanol is derived from corn, fuel is typically 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol.

In Brazil—the second-largest ethanol producer behind the U.S.—fuel contains up to 27 percent ethanol, with sugarcane as the main feedstock.

But the concept of using farmland to produce fuel instead of food comes with its own challenges, and solutions that rely on waste or other feedstocks haven’t yet been able to compete on price and scale with conventional fuels.

Global biofuel output needs to triple by 2030 in order to meet the International Energy Agency’s targets for sustainable growth.

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