Citronella oil extraction project in Biliran

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One of the success stories in the implementation of Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) in Region VIII is the citronella extraction project in Barangay Bato, Biliran, Biliran. The citronella oil extraction plant is operated by the Biliran Essential Oil Manufacturing Philippines (BEOMP) with office at Ormoc City owned by Mr. Jesus F. Doyon, Sr.

The firm started operation in 2004. The adoptor initially uses the crude design of the citronella oil extraction equipment developed by Engr. Jesus Villamil, who became Mr. Doyon’s consultant. Realizing the potential of the citronella oil industry, the company continuously seek the assistance of DOST and other agencies for improvement of the process and expansion of the essential oil venture. Latest addition to the innovativeness of the owner is the adoption of new citronella oil extractor design which can use both LPG and firewood as fuel, and under vacuum condition through the support of DOST. This was conceived because of the desire of the proprietor to improve citronella oil quality for the future needs of buyers who would demand better quality oil. Although ambitious, the proponent was looking in advance for expansion of its local market share and possible foreign market. The Internet is its current market scout through Mr. Doyon’s marketing manager, Mrs. Irma Paras, with the support of DOST-Biliran PSTC.

DOST through several agencies such as the Industrial Technology Development Institute, the Technology Application and Promotion Institute, the DOST Regional Office No. VIII and the Biliran Provincial Science and Technology Center have provided continuous support to the company since its operation in 2004. Among the assistance provided was on the quality assessment of citronella oil. Result of ITDI chemical analysis show that the citronella oil produced by the company contain about 21-25% geraniol (the essential alcohol component of citronella oil). Because of this ITDI recommended possible improvement of the process to increase geraniol levels such as use of vacuum distiller. This innovation was integrated in the design of the new citronella oil extraction machine which was acquired through funding support by DOST's SET-UP in the amount of PhP365,000.00 in 2006.

Another recommendation in the ValdecaƱas & Torres report, which was integrated in the new design, was the use of alternative fuel (LPG) and the fiberglass insulation of the main extractor vessel. Continued technical consultancy was provided in the manufacturing practices of the company such as elimination of the use of waste tire as fuel or fire starter in the burner, the possible removal of dead leaves and other minor recommendations, which the adoptor used.

The firms production and sales from citronella oil almost doubled compared to its past levels. Increase of production ranges from 80-100% from its original level in 2004. Gross sales in 2007 approximately reached PhP780,000 which is about 84% increase from 2004 recorded sales (Based on DOST Pre-Implementation Sheet data).The citronella oil becomes clearer and finer with geraniol considerably increased to 52% based on latest analysis of ITDI.

The intervention of the DOST was matched up by the proponent’s increased investment with the acquisition of additional equipment, facility improvement, and farm implements reaching about PhP 3.5 M. In an industry level, since BEOM is the only producer in the Region, the investment is a major contribution. The expansion of the plantation from the existing 15-hectare active plantation to another 20 hectares was a big leap to reactivating the 50 hectares used by the earlier companies.

The waste grass was not a problem for the company since it is biodegradable and can be used as organic fertilizer for the plantation and landfill for the remaining uncultivated areas. The waste water was used as spray for the plants to repel insects and pests.

What then could be a good sign of success as far as SETUP is concerned? Well, among the milestones achieved is BEOMP's completion of its refund of the SETUP assistance in 2009. Having employed at least 30 workers and involved farmers in citronella grass cultivation is a legacy that would be a starting point for a growing industry in this Island Paradise of Biliran. A proof that a lazy man's crop like citronella grass could be a good source of livelihood and income to the local folks.

For more details, interested citronella oil buyers and investors may contact Ms. Irma Paras (email: irmaparas@yahoo.com or irmadoyon@yahoo.com and phone number:+639239202060 or +639273641259).