THE coconut industry said on Wednesday that it is hoping that the government ultimately raises the share of coconut oil in the biodiesel blend to 12-15% from the current 2%, a move which it said has the potential to significantly lower prices for diesel users.

United Coconut Association of the Philippines, Inc. (UCAP) Chairman Dean Lao, Jr. said the current 2% biodiesel blend (B2) sells for less than P60 per liter, against regular diesel, whose price has already breached P60.

Speaking at a World Coconut Congress briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Lao said even an intermediate increase to a 5% blend could lead to the production of about 280 million liters of biodiesel a year, which can easily be supported by the available coconut oil supply.

“The coconut industry needs a value-added market that is sizeable, that is dependable, and that is not subject to the influence of foreign markets,” Mr. Lao said. “It can make a huge amount of difference to the coconut industry (to develop) a value-added market over time,” he added.

“In fact, we are also pushing for a (12% or 15%) blend as we have that much coconut oil,” he said.

Republic Act No. 9367, also known as the Biofuels Act of 2006, requires biofuels to make up a growing share of the energy mix to help reduce reliance on imported fuel.

Additionally, UCAP Vice-Chairman Marco Reyes cited the pollution-reduction benefits of a biofuel shift.

“Just by increasing the blend to 5%, the particulate matter in the air goes down by 83%. This will also result in P1.5 trillion in savings,” Mr. Reyes added.

“We need to rediscover our coconuts. We cannot just be importers of crude oil. We need to wean ourselves from dependence of crude oil,” he said. — Adrian H. Halili