The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) Southeast Asia and Oceania office recently spent a week in Ilocos Norte, Philippines, surveying community ethanol development programs and research infrastructure with memorandum of understanding (MOU) partner Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).
USGC and MMSU – which houses the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported National Bioenergy Research & Innovation Centre (NBERIC) – signed an MOU in July 2022 to cooperate on the exchange of knowledge, technical information and best practices related to ethanol industry and policy development in the Philippines.
The visit comprised an assessment of current ethanol research programs at NBERIC, briefings on the university’s bioenergy curriculum, a survey of nipa grass farms used as feedstock sources for community-scale ethanol distilleries and a meeting with Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc to discuss MMSU’s ethanol programs and rural economic development in the province.
“Our visit to MMSU allowed us to view first-hand the impressive work NBERIC has completed to date in promoting bioethanol as a tool to increase rural incomes and better understand where we can best support this programming,” said Chris Markey, USGC assistant regional director for Southeast Asia and Oceania.
“USGC is excited to continue this partnership into 2023 as we look ahead to joint programs that will involve a diverse group of bioenergy stakeholders in the Philippines.”
The visit also provided an opportunity for USGC and MMSU to assess potential collaborations on animal feed programming, particularly in the space of education and capacity building at both the university and throughout Ilocos Norte Province.
The Council recently sponsored two MMSU and NBERIC faculty members to take part in a three-week virtual “Ethanol Procurement for Importers” course provided by the Northern Crops Institute (NCI), during which participants attended lectures covering the U.S. corn ethanol industry, sustainability and ethanol policy.
The Philippines continues to be one of the largest export markets for U.S. agricultural and food exports, averaging $3.1 billion annually since 2017. The U.S. ethanol industry is a major servicer for the Philippines, supplying roughly 40 percent of the country’s annual ethanol demand of 170 million gallons (60,283,687 bushels in corn equivalent). The Philippines implemented an E10 mandate in 2011 and is currently evaluating an expansion of the fuel ethanol policy.