3 big dev’t projects in MMSU seen

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A plan to implement three big projects in the MMSU is already in the pipeline for possible implementation next year.

These are the National Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Center (NRERIC) and the Garlic Research Center (GRC), which are national in scope; and a modern stadium and grandstand with a rubberized oval.

MMSU President Shirley Agrupis said she was already assured of the P150 million for the establishment of the national NRERIC from Senator Loren Legarda after submitting her proposal to Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

She said the NRERIC will serve as hub of all renewable energy centers in the country and a laboratory for MMSU’s Professional Science Master on Renewable Energy Engineering course.

“Because biofuel is our banner program in MMSU, Sen. Legarda has approved the P150 million for the first two years for the establishment of the center,” she said adding that the project was immediately endorsed by the Department of Energy (DOE), Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), and various bioenergy stakeholders.

Dr. Agrupis said Sen. Legarda prefers the NRERIC to be a national center instead of being regional in scope and advised DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi to spearhead the drafting of a national program that focuses on nipa as feedstock for bio-ethanol. In line with this, Sen. Win Gachalian has also given directives to DOE and SRA to direct all their resources to MMSU for the development of nipa bioethanol feedstock.

Dr. Agrupis said Sen. Legarda does not want the DOE and SRA to conduct too much researches, but they should deploy their resources intended for research to MMSU so that the university can focus more on nipa. The senator wants this national RERIC center to be deployed in Ilocos.

Aside from the P150 million as a start up fund, Sen. Legarda has assured another P20 million for every year thereafter for the sustainability of the center. The budget, she said, will be released in 2018.

“I am deeply honored because of all higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country, only MMSU was invited in the Senate as an academic resource institution in the evaluation of the Biofuel Act,” Dr. Agrupis said.

The president also said that in that Senate meeting, everybody was given the chance to give their justification why the government should continue to implement the Biofuel Act of 2006. 

“When it came to technical justification, they focused on the feedstock, because the facilities for bio-ethanol are already in place, large-scale industries are already in place, and the biofuel outlook is there,” Dr. Agrupis said, noting that the country still cannot meet the demand for ethanol especially for the 10% needed as mixture of gasoline, thus, the  Philippines still imports 60% ethanol from other countries. 

Records show that nipa cannot substitute sugarcane, because the present palm plantation  can only sustain 19 to 20 percent of the total ethanol demand. 

“That is why I justified it since biofuel is the flagship project of MMSU and we have embraced all kinds of feedstocks. All of them have potential, but when we talk of sustainability, we focus on nipa. For economic reasons, acceptability and sustainability, nipa is the best,” she beamed.

Modern stadium and GRC

Also, Dr. Agrupis said she was already assured of the P25 million allocation from the office of Sen, Richard Gordon for the construction of a modern grandstand and stadium with a rubberized oval, and another P57 million from Sen. Cynthia Villar  for the construction of a modern GRC.

“The MMSU’s 39-year-old sports oval should be quickly rehabilitated because it caters to numerous sporting, social and even religious activities in the province. A rubberized oval will not only become an institution to develop athletes, but also an important and necessary element for good health among the student and staff,” said Prof. Arsenio Gallego, director of the university’s Center for Human Movements and Studies (CHuMS).

A modern GRC is needed to revitalize the garlic industry since the crop is now facing numerous problems and the production has not been improved significantly during the past decades. These resulted in farmers’ low profitability. (By Reynaldo E. Andres)

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