Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick

With the rum industry, like most other industries, faced with rising energy costs, a senior government minister has offered a suggestion which could provide higher earnings for the sector while saving valuable currency.

Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, said the utilisation of vinasse, the material output from the manufacture of rum and ethanol, could be useful for its energy potential and fertiliser use.

Speaking during a recent Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) Rum Expansion Programme groundbreaking session at the Bagnalls Point Gallery, Pelican Craft Centre, Bridgetown, he said: "The production of biogas from vinasse and the use of biogas to generate heat and electricity for your manufacturing process should be examined. The bio fertiliser which is an output from the development of biogas could be used in the sugar cane industry to increase the yields in sugar cane."

Dr. Estwick added that another benefit of utilising vinasse to produce energy and fertiliser was the reduced negative impact the current method of vinasse disposal was having on the environment.

The Agriculture Minister also called on the rum manufacturers to explore the possibility of producing ethanol for fuel use. The ethanol, he added, could replace the Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) which is currently used in gasoline as an oxygenate additive.

"The production of local ethanol for use in a 10 per cent gasoline fuel blend would eliminate the potential negative impact of MTBE while saving foreign exchange for the country and diversifying the revenue stream of the rum industry, utilising skill sets and resources already present in the rum industry," Dr. Estwick said.


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