Ethanol soon from sweet potatoes

beadottin, beadottin@nationnews.com

Added 27 November 2012

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A plant to produce ethanol from sweet potatoes is in the pipeline, according to Dr Leroy McClean, chief executive officer of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC). Without providing details, he said, “I have a Chinese company . . . awaiting a response from me that can build a turn-key operation to make ethanol from sweet potatoes. And it is only going to cost about US$600 000 to build it . . . . This is something which can be useful to Barbados. So I searched for a company which can produce the plant and got all of the information; schematics for the plant.” McClean said all that was required now was to acquire the investment. His comments came during the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) quarterly business-to-business networking session at Harris Paints’ corporate office last Wednesday night. McClean was highlighting some of the plans he had for the BIDC as its newly appointed chief executive officer. He said that based on research, sweet potatoes yield more ethanol than corn and the tuber root crop took 12 to 15 weeks to mature, with less maintenance than required for sugar cane – although sugar cane gave a slightly higher yield of ethanol. He added that the BIDC was adopting a “farm-to-factory theme” in an effort to marry the agriculture and manufacturing sectors and grow them both. “What I am saying is, here is a crop that can boost our agricultural sector . . . instead of planting one field of sweet potatoes on a plantation you can plant, let’s say, 50 acres, which will help to control the weeds in the field. “You will therefore make it more economical to produce the same sugar cane. You will now have greater efficiencies in the whole process and agriculture will become a more viable exercise,” explained McClean. (MM)

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