DoST pushes e-vehicles, wheat alternatives in response to Ukraine crisis

 DoST pushes e-vehicles, wheat alternatives in response to Ukraine crisis
Cassava (pictured) and sweet potato were identified as viable crop alternatives to wheat. — PIXABAY

E-vehicles and crop alternatives such as cassava can mitigate the impact of potential shortages in petroleum and wheat caused by the Ukraine crisis, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

“As soon as we heard of the projected problems on certain commodities because of the war on Ukraine, we immediately convened our officials at DoST to take a look at what we have that are readily available in terms of technologies that can mitigate the potential shortages,” said Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña in a March 9 briefing.

The main constraint to e-vehicles, according to Mr. de la Peña, is the lack of charging infrastructure. “It is up to the LGUs [local government units] to pick up the technology,” he said.  

DoST has also developed hybrid trimaran trains or sea trains, to be launched this June, that convert wave energy to mechanical energy, thus reducing fuel consumption.

Electric road train prototypes now run in Cauayan City, Isabela, and General Santos City, South Cotabato.  

The Metals Industry Research Institute will begin producing these hybrid trains with the help of fabricators in Region II. 

Cauayan City is likewise being tapped to promote e-tricycles through driver incentive programs, said Sancho A. Mabborang, DoST Region II director. The research and development center for e-mobility will be assisted by the city government of Tuguegarao. 

Meanwhile, cassava and sweet potato were identified as viable crop alternatives to wheat because they are easier to produce in large quantities, according to Reynaldo V. Ebora, executive director of DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). 

The best varieties for cassava and sweet potato production have already been identified by state universities in Tarlac and the Visayas, added Mr. Ebora.

The Emergency Food Reserve (EFR) or Sagip-Nutri Flour — an intermediate food product made of cassava, sweet potato, moringa, squash, and mung beans — is also an “easily replicable” wheat flour alternative.

EFR can be stored for long periods of time, and can be consumed in emergencies such as natural disasters, said Annabelle V. Briones, director of Industrial Technology Development Institute, which developed the product.

These food reserves, which can be made in an ordinary kitchen, should be considered by micro, small, and medium enterprises, she added. 

On March 2, the Department of Energy assured that the country is not lacking in supply in terms of oil. It cautioned, however, against the inevitability of domestic price spikes. — Patricia B. Mirasol