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Gota Verde (Green Drop or Drop of Green), is a three year initiative based biofuel project that is located in Yoro, Honduras. This project focuses on demonstrating that biofuel creation on a small scale for local uses can be economically and technically feasible (1). The project is funded by a variety of Hondurean National, regional, and European oraganizations, with overall coordination of the first phase of Gota Verde (2007-2009) being managed by the Social Trade Organisation (STRO) http://www.socialtrade.org from the Netherlands (2).
The need for a project like Gota Verde stems from the fact that Honduras has not had a single petroleum refinery within the country since 1993 (3). According to the current project coordination organization, the Foundation for Rural Enterprise Development (FUNDER) website, http://www.funder.hn, "Honduras is a country that does not produce oil, and depends 100% on the imports of non-renewable energy. In 2006, these imports represented 16.7 millions of barrels, equivalent to 701.4 millions of gallons (42 gallons per barrel)" (4). In rural areas like Yoro in North, Central Honduras (see Figure A), this can mean very high prices fuel prices for gasoline and deisel. In fact by 2008, Honduras spent 67% of their export earnings on importing refined petroleum in order to maintain normal operations. Gota Verde and the company that resulted from it Biocombustibles de Yoro Sociedad Anonima (BYSA) or Biofuels Company in Yoro Limited, are using an Appropriate Technology approach to address this issue. By using natural resources like abundant sunlight, nutrient rich soil, rainwater and, biofuel crops like jatropha and castor, Gota Verde and BYSA are seeking to make Yoro more susutainable and economically independent.
Sustainability in Action
Gota Verde is a biofuel project with a difference.
- Its products cannot be found in the ports of Rotterdam and Miami, but in the irrigation pumps, tractors, agro-industrial equipment and vehicles used locally in Yoro.
- Its feedstock does not come from monoculture plantations of several hundreds of hectares of monocultures, but from hundreds of small plantations and live fences, managed by small and medium-sized farmers and their families.
- The owners of the processing enterprise are no anonymous overseas shareholders, but the very local farmers that cultivate their lands.
(Statement taken from the Gota Verde webpage http://www.gotaverde.org) (5).
1. Coordination- The Project brought together a wide range of highly skilled individuals to ensure that all models and technologies demonstrated the highest possible quality while meeting the needs of BYSA and future co-beneficiaries. (see Figure B below for hierarchical layout of all organizations involved.)
2. Business Development- One of the main focuses of the Gota Verde project was to create a sustainable company that could take on the organization of production and distribution of the biofuels that were being created through the project. The creation of BYSA in May 2008 accomplished this goal.
3. Agriculture Development- The goal of the project was to ensure that 700 hectacres of oilseed plants were planted during the project period of 2007-2009. The major crops invested in are jatropha (pinon) and castor (higuerilla), with a agricultural productivity investigations being conducted on soy, colza, sunflower, rape (canola), and turnip fodder plants. (see Figure C - Jatropha Plantation)
4. Processing- The processing done in this project focuses mainly on oil extraction and maximizing all by-products to enhance the value that is added by local markets. There are three main processes invovled in the processing of oil seed crops:
-Shelling/Dehusking (preparing and separating various parts of the nuts)
-Drying (using solar energy to prepare the seeds/nuts for extraction)
-Transportation (delivering the seeds from the point of harvest and processing to point of oil extraction)
5. Adaptation of Diesel engines- Conversion of traditional Diesel engines for the use of biofuel requires not only the fuel but an adjustment with the fueling system that heats the PPO (pure plant oil) prior to injection into the fuel system to prevent long term engine damage. Diesel engine conversion also promotes the use of biofuel or PPO's for long term energy generation in rural areas, as can be seen demonstrated in the FACT project in Mali http://www.fact-fuels.org.
6. Divulgation of Information- While one of the main focuses of Gota Verde is to develop sustainable source of income in the Yoro region of Honduras, it also focuses on sharing information in a way that inspires and facilitates future project of a similar focus in other regions especially Central America. (Information translated from Gota Verde website http://gotaverde.org/en_new_portal/node/6)(6).
Media Role in Gota Verde
While it may not seem so, media played a large role in the success of the Gota Verde project. In fact, as stated in one of the projects focuses, sharing information was one of the core components of this project. This was primarily accomplished by posting all observations, conversations, agricultural productivity investigations, and decisions on either an online documentation section of the Gota Verde website http://gotaverde.org/en_new_portal/node/8 or publishing an annual and biannual newsletter that went out to all involved parties.
The role of new media and 'new new' media is even more evident when one visits the BYSA website. Links to Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are prominent parts of the website layout. These site links act as not only a means of communication betweeen coordinators and participants, but as a public forum through which non-participants can engage and learn about the missions, accomplishments, and future goals of Gota Verde and BYSA. This is a great demonstration of how media can impact and enhance movements of sustainability and social change.
- http://www. http://gotaverde.org/en_new_portal/
- All Images used come from http://www.gotaverde.org
(Figure A- Map of Yoro)
(Figure B- Hierarchy of Organizations Involved in Coordination)
(Figure C- Jatropha Plantation)