In India, Odisha's University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) and state-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) have signed an agreement to develop and promote rice straw based biofuel production in the state of Odisha. A 'Biofuel Chair' would be set up in the university to conduct research for the screening of best agricultural crops and develop new agricultural varieties that can yield more cellulose content.
According to Press Trust India, BPCL will provide financial support of Rs 5 crore (INR 50 million ≈ EUR 657 100) to the university for effective utilisation of paddy straw for biofuel production in a biochemical enzymatic process. Out of the total budget allocation, Rs 2 crore (INR 20 million ≈ EUR 263 000) will be used as a corpus for the chair and Rs 3 crore (INR 30 million ≈ EUR 394 100) as research contingency for development, establishment and popularization of the biofuel production technology.
The endeavour is in line with the policy decision for supplementation of 10 percent straw-based ethanol for increasing fuel efficiency and reducing the pressure on fossil fuel. India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, who was present at the signing of the agreement on December 24, said that the university would help BPCL in strengthening technical support for ensuring smooth functioning of a second generation (2G) ethanol biorefinery at Bargarh in western Odisha, one of eleven ethanol plants to be set up around the country.
We should promote and extend support for agri-business in Odisha and reach new markets across the globe. This would empower our younger generation and enhance the income of youths and farmers, said Minister Pradhan.
The Minister also proposed that the university establish an agri-business incubation centre in the campus to promote students, farmers and young entrepreneurs in Odisha. Being the staple food, rice is grown in all the agro-climatic zones of the state. At present, Odisha has an annual rice production of 85 lakh (8.5 million) tonnes with an approximate production of 100 lakh (10 million) tonnes of rice straw.
Except for use as fodder and a few domestic purposes, there is almost no economic utilization of rice straw. The Minister urged the state government to extend all cooperation for the establishment of the incubation centre. The large acreage and production of rice in the state provide ample opportunities to excel in the promotion of rice straw based biofuel production.