Waste to worth
towards full recovery of nutrient and energy from animal manure
Discharge of animal manure into the environment causes pollution of soils and water resources, as well as the emission of noxious gases. This result in public health risks (e.g. waterborne diseases), biodiversity losses and economic losses (e.g. water treatment costs). The issue is particularly acute where large number of animals are geographically concentrated and not connected to land where manure can be applied.
Experience from previous projects and initiatives, including the GEF funded Livestock Waste Management in South East Asia project, show that awareness and technology are not the main constraints to improving animal manure management. In fact, technologies related to nutrient recycling (i.e., manure collection, storage, composting, drying, crop application) and energy recovery (anaerobic digestion) are widely known, although the level of expertise and dissemination vary from country to country.
Under growing pressure from civil society, governments are taking action to mitigate impacts but policy interventions are generally ineffective. Policies are based on a limited assessment of current practices and a poor understanding of the costs farmers have to bear in order to comply with mitigation regulations that are not tailored to farm structure and investment capacity. Furthermore, some countries have derived their policy frameworks for livestock from environmental policies addressing industrial waste, which are of a different composition and generally not adapted to energy and nutrient recovery.
Because enforcement of new policies is sensitive, and because environmental regulations can have a wider effect than the strict environmental issue they intend to tackle, there is a need to analyse their consequences. In particular, environmental policies will affect farmer’s income and labor demand, with some consequences on rural development. To be effective, policies must be designed, targeted and phased in such a way that farmers are capable to gradually adopt new farm practices (and technologies) over time without too disruptive shocks in both, the financial and technical management of production units. Determining the consequences of environmental policies across different areas and farm structure is an important part of the policy process which must involve producers and civil society organizations.
Furthermore, there is a need to assess and control leakage: livestock production may move away from countries implementing stringent environmental policies to “pollution havens” where no such regulations are in place. The obvious reluctance to engage in practices that may harm sector and national competitiveness has limited progress.
- Workshop for the Focus Area “Reduced discharge”
24- 27 April, Seoul, South Korea