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IANS

The world's first ethanol production refinery project from bamboo with a daily capacity of 30,000 litres is to be built in India, following an agreement signed between a Hyderabad-based company and a farmers' company in Maharashtra's Latur.

This will not just offer ethanol at competitive prices but also provide livelihood opportunities to farmers who can grow bamboo for the plant. Also, at present, the Centre has committed to blend 20 per cent ethanol with petrol by 2025. This creates a huge opportunity for using bamboo-based ethanol.

The agreement for the ethanol refinery project was signed on Friday in Hyderabad between Nagarjuna Group, Hyderabad and Lodga Bamboo Industries in Latur district between Dr Banibrata Pande for Nagarjuna Group and Pasha Patel on behalf of the Lodga Bamboo Industries.

"This refinery project will be the first in the world to produce 30,000 litres of ethanol per day from bamboo," Patel, a farmers' leader and former member of Legislative Council, said.

The project is the realisation of efforts over the last four years to promote bamboo as the key resource for livelihood security for famers and global climate resilience.

The technology jointly developed by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Nagarjuna Industries makes it possible to set up medium scale bamboo-based ethanol plants in the country with an investment of Rs 65 crore each. As many as 60,000 tonnes of bamboo grown over 1,500 acres would be required annually to meet the raw material requirements of this plant. "This would provide an assured market to bamboo farmers providing them a robust and stable annual income besides taking the country one step further towards energy security," Patel said.

Underlining the importance of bamboo as a cash crop for farmers, he said: "Although first harvest of bamboo can be taken only after year three of plantation, farmers can take intercrops during the first two years. Bamboo truly lives up to its identity as 'green gold'. This year itself, more than 10,000 farmers in Maharashtra have planted bamboo on nearly 15,000 acres."

"Bamboo will contribute to carbon sequestration during its growth and due to non-burning of fossil fuels, carbon emission will be drastically reduced. Use of bamboo for ethanol production also serves to conserve ground water. Unlike sugarcane, the most common material currently used to manufacture ethanol, bamboo requires only one fifth of water compared to water required for growing sugarcane," he said.

Patel and his team have planned to set up bamboo-based ethanol plants in partnership with Nagarjuna Industries in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and other states too.

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