THE production of Negros First charcoal is seen to go full swing this year, according to the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO).

Shiela Jumayao, project development officer IV, said since its launching last November, the Provincial Government has already produced an initial volume of charcoal using farm wastes, mainly briquetted rice hulls.

Jumayao said they utilized as processing center a portion of the Capitol-run Negros First Ranch (NFR) located in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Murcia town.

The province had purchased a unit of briquetting machine and made use of the abundant sources of rice hulls at the farm for the initial production, she said.

“The initiative is under PVO’s Waste Management Program,” Jumayao said, adding that after the sampling stage last year, the province is now ready to fully produce the Negros First charcoal.

Another unit of briquetting machine is up for delivery.

In terms of farm wastes supply, the province also plans to source from different rice mills in Negros Occidental.

Using the initial production, PVO had already introduced the use of Negros First charcoal to local “inasal” (grilled food) vendors.

Jumayao said it was found to be more efficient than the traditional charcoal, with a price cheaper by 50 percent.

The initiative also contributes to the environment protection efforts of the province as it will lessen the use of trees, Jumayao said.

“The briquetted charcoal is already one of the farm products of NFR positioned to be a new income-generating initiative of the province,” she added.

Two energy experts from the Netherlands had earlier expressed interest to help the province in this venture.

Early last year, Jacques Poldervaart, an energy expert from the Project Uitzending Managers (PUM), and Joepvan Doorn of CharcoTec, a Dutch charcoal-producing company, were in the province to study its potential in converting biomass, mainly derived from farm wastes such as sugarcane tops, rice hulls, and grasses, into charcoal and electricity.

They said Negros Occidental is rich in agricultural residues thus, it has huge potential for producing energy and charcoal from farm wastes.

Jumayao, however, said the Dutch experts have not yet returned thus, the province opted to already start the initiative.