Viaspace announces contract with Agri-Corp

By Erin Voegele | February 22, 2013

Viaspace Inc. has announced that it has entered into a contract with Agri-Corp of Managua, Nicaragua and is growing Giant King Grass on land owned by them.  Agri-Corp shareholders and Viaspace plan to co-develop a biomass electric power plant fueled by Giant King Grass in Nicaragua.

Agri-Corp is a subsidiary of Grain Hill which is a diversified agro-industrial business group in the following food related businesses: agriculture-mainly growing rice, food processing, mainly rice milling, and distribution of its own 12 brands of rice, and value added food products, and third-party brands.  It has revenues of $300 million per year with operations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.  Grain Hill/Agri-Corp is the largest rice company in Nicaragua with 65 percent market share.

Giant King Grass is being grown on part of a 10,000 acre Agri-Corp farm near Lake Nicaragua. 6,000 acres of the farm are currently cultivated with rice and irrigated with water from Lake Nicaragua. An Agri-Corp rice mill is co-located on the farm which would also be the site of the power plant. The rice mill produces rice husk as waste which would also be used as a small portion of the biomass fuel for the power plant. 

“We plan to use our land and know-how in agriculture to bring reliable and sustainable biomass electricity to Nicaragua.  We will reduce our costs by generating electricity for our own use, and sell the remainder to the grid which needs additional reliable sources,” said Amilcar Ybarra-Rojas , Grain Hill CEO and board president. "Giant King Grass will be the primary fuel, but will be supplemented by rice husk which is a byproduct of our rice milling operations.  The Giant King Grass plantation and power plant will create additional employment which will enhance our community, and the project will bring value to our diversified company."

"Agri-Corp is a perfect partner for Viaspace,” said Carl Kukkonen, Viaspace CEO. “They are very experienced in agriculture. On the rice farm where Giant King Grass is growing, they have experienced staff including several agronomists. They have an extensive suite of equipment including airplanes for crop dusting, and plenty of irrigation from Lake Nicaragua to supplement natural rainfall. We have been talking with Agri-Corp since July 2011 and have a confidentiality agreement with them. I have visited Nicaragua twice and a Viaspace agronomist was with me, and he went again to oversee the Giant King Grass planting.  In parallel with growing Giant King Grass, we will be working together on the plans for the biomass power plant. Viaspace is playing a leading role in this development."

"Grain Hill/Agri-Corp is a diversified company with a mandate for agricultural innovation and sustainability. Renewable and sustainable biomass power has been on our agenda for some time," said Edgard Cuadra Chamorro, strategic business manager. "When we contacted Viaspace, we realized that Giant King Grass would present a unique opportunity for our company. I will be working closely with Viaspace on the power plant development."