Work Plan
The Environmental Colours of Microfinance
Appendix: Bioconversion Technology Among Rural Entrepreneurs

Nearly all phases of food and feed life cycles (e.g., production, collection, transport and storage, processing and preservation, as well as sales and consumption) generate residues in one form or another. Thus, there is an abundance of organic matter which can be used as raw material for conversion into useful products. The value added by reuse of agricultural and agro-industrial wastes or by-products not only offers opportunities for income generation in rural areas but also reduces the impacts of environmental pollution. Fully utilised, the bioconversion of organic residues or wastes can have environmental and economic benefits similar to those of cleaner production or waste minimisation programmes. Ideally, all, or almost all, wastes will be reused because they are seen as valuable input materials for other, value added products.

The Asia Institute of Technology Southeast Asia Program Office (SEAPO) is collaborating with the German group CDG (Carl Duisberg Gesselschaft) in the promotion of small biotechnology-based businesses, especially mushroom and bio-organic fertiliser production. The CDG-SEAPO programme is based on the following context, goals and assumptions:

  • The availability of an abundance of agricultural and agro-industrial waste materials. Seventy-five per cent of plant production output is non-used biomass, most of which can be reused instead of polluting the environment.
  • Historic experience in the use of relatively simple, non capital-intensive microbial processes for the provision of goods and services, especially of food.
  • The eventually high potential for improving existing biotechnologies through application of modern science and engineering principles.
  • The need to complement biotechnology transfer from R&D centres to enterprises, farms, and potential entrepreneurs with relevant small entrepreneurship development training and other useful assistance strategies.
  • Generate income and create employment and utilise abundantly available organic waste materials.

The project's main goal has been to support and create Viable Small Biotechnology Businesses (VSBBs) in rural regions of developing countries. This main goal has been based on the twin objectives of:

  1. Enabling and strengthening Science and Technology institutions for adequate biotechnology transfer.
  2. Successful commercialisation by Small Biotechnology Businesses (SBBs).

The mushroom-based enterprises produce food directly on a substrate of prepared organic waste materials. The Bio-Organic Fertiliser (BOF), if used for food and feed crops, also helps make organic wastes a contributor to food production. The project has resulted in different levels of economic activity both micro and medium, with varying degrees of success. More than 1,000 entrepreneurs have been trained. One noteworthy tiny BOF operation is PAYOGA, a local NGO in Northern Luzon, Philippines which started its BOF plant in summer 1992. From 100 tonnes of rice straw and another 90 tonnes of manure, PAYOGA has produced 1,900 50 kg bags of BOF of which 1,600 bags were sold to nearby farmers.

Source: Tharun 1994.

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Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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