"...Treat wood on par with food"...,
"...change from 'Hydrocarbon economy' to 'Carbohydrate economy'.."
"...Fast woods better than Fast foods"
"...Civilizations flourish in fertile soils' and diminish in depleted soils'.."
"...policies to lift 'Primary sector' from the 'Tread mill' and place on 'Escalator',
"...cultivation and utilization of trees as an economically viable, ecologically empathetic, environmentally ameliorative and aesthetically acceptable..."
By now you might have guessed the person who cleverly uses the likes of above keywords and key phrases to deliver a punch to get the attention of the listeners. He is none other then our Dr.G.Kumaravelu, former Indian Forest service Officer and a well known Forest and tree scientist in India.
He is the person who introduced Melia dubia for economical upliftment of farmers and the main driving force to popularize the concept of using Melia dubia for biomass power generation.
- 'Utilising the Melia dubia wood as alternative fuel in co-generation plants of co-operative sugar mills in the State' (Note: Last part of the above article deals with Melia dubia).
Some major companies, who have established their units in Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts with the intention of using Prosopis Juliflora which is seen almost everywhere in Tamil Nadu, as their main biomass material are feeling the pinch now with the high cost and non availability of feedstock. It is not an exaggeration to mention here that many of the biomass power plants had become economically unviable and had to be shut.
The time has now come for them to establish energy plantations, announcing 'Minimum Support Price' and entering into 'Buy back agreements' to infuse confidence among the farmers.
According to Dr.G.Kumaravelu, Melia dubia (Malai Vembu in Tamil, Hebbevu in Kannada, Konda Veppa in Telugu) is the right choice for establishing large scale energy plantations because of it's excellent utility value as Biomass fuel with good Calorific value of 5,043 - 5,176 Kcal / Kg., lesser ash content of 2.88% and higher fixed carbon content.
- Spacing @1.5x1.5m...........- 1740 Plants / Acre.
- Yield @ 50 Kg/tree after 2 years - 87 Tonnes/Acre/irrigated & fertigated.
- Yield per year...................- 44 Tonnes /Acre / Year
- 1MW production................- 24 Tonnes/Day. (Roughly 2Kg for 1 unit)
- For 365 days.....................- 8760 Tonnes/Year. (Approx.9000 T)
- If the yield is 50 T/Acre/Year, than for continuous feedstock availability 360 acres (180 acres x 2) of Melia should be planted.
- Viability: 10 MW plant. So, 3600 acres are to be planted.
- Profit for farmer:87TxRs.2000=Rs.1.74 Lakh /2 years (-) cultivation + Drip + Fertilizers + Harvest cost Rs.0.74= Rs.1.00 L (i.e) Rs.0.50/year.
- Cost of production for the mill: Rs.3.50 per unit.
- Cost of selling electricity - Rs.4.50 per unit.
- Minimum profit for the company (per unit) - Rs.1.00
All is not well to the farmers since companies are still offering Minimum Support Price of only Rs.1800/Ton/at farm gate even for contract farming (Click the Link:FCRI- Market Current Prices).
Need of the hour is for the Government to take into account the interests of the farmers and fix a reasonable Minimum Support Price on the lines of 'Sugarcane Pricing' every year. In the present chaotic power scenario, our Govt. can also directly participate in the "Power from Biomass programme" like its decision to participate in the ethanol programme of Sugar Industry.
By announcing more procurement price for the feedstock and a reasonable price for the Power produced by the companies, our Govt. will not only solve the present power crisis but also will bring back smiles to the majority voters (sic) farmers.