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Tuesday 15 December 2009

Concerned about AfricaBio: South Africa's genetically modified potato

Trevor Wells writes of his problems with AfricaBio's opposition to consumers knowing what they are eating and its attempts to manipulate farmers' views.
I would like to raise a concern I have about SAPA's (South African Press Association) article 'GM [genetically modified] potato rejected', which was published on the Business News webpage on 12 Thursday November 2009. My concern is with the superficial coverage the article provides and what I would see as clear public relations manipulation of the SAPA journalist.

The article is based overwhelmingly around the views and comments of GM industry lobbyist Jocelyn Webster, who is employed by AfricaBio.

The article quotes AfricaBio's website which claims it is a 'non-profit biotechnology organisation, aimed at promoting safe, ethical and responsible research, development and application of biotechnology and its products', the implication being that AfricaBio is not related to profit-motivated organisations.

However, according to AfricaBio's Section 21 Company constitution, business members have five votes, while research organisations and non-business members have, respectively, two votes and one vote. From this it is clear that AfricaBio is dominated by the industry. In fact, the seed giant Monsanto – South Africa has considerably more than five deciding votes as it has South African subsidiary companies as members too.

It is also clear from their continued lobbying to prevent the labelling of GM food that AfricaBio is opposed to consumers knowing what they are eating.

The article implied that Webster was reacting to 'anti-GMO activists' who claimed that the GM potato was rejected only on safety grounds. The media release from the 'activists' the African Centre for Biosafety clearly lists the 11 reasons listed in the minutes of the Executive Council for the rejection. The majority of these reasons were directly related to safety issues, both to health and the environment.

The article further implied that the tuber moth was a major concern to farmers and quoted Webster as saying that GM potatoes would lead to significant cost savings for farmers and, to a large extent, eliminate insecticide spraying. The Department of Agriculture however concluded that commercial farmers do not anticipate this event to present a significant lowering of inputs as the same spraying regime is required to manage other pests which the GM potato does not target. It further concluded that rodents were more of a pest than the tuber moth.

As far back as 2005 the Executive Director of the Chamber of Milling Jannie de Villiers complained: 'The export situation in South Africa is complicated by a "cocktail" of non-GM and GM maize. Some countries want GM maize, others do not.' 'But', added de Villiers, 'South Africa's system does not cater for differentiation, making it even more difficult to dispose of a surplus.' It is significant that the potato farmers themselves requested the department to reject the GM potato because the 'segregation of GM from non-GM potatoes would require an identity preservation system which is currently not in place'.

The article states that Webster said the improved potato was developed and tested with public funding for the benefit of all farmers. This would lead the average South African reader to erroneously conclude that South African taxpayers paid for the development of this potato to benefit South African farmers. Webster fails to put this into its true context.

For example, this particular GM potato project was a Trojan-horse strategy of the Southern Africa Regional Biosafety (SARB) programme. SARB is a sub-unit of a much larger USAID-funded project, the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program (ABSP), managed originally by Michigan State University and more recently by Cornell (ABSP II). ABSP’s private sector partners have included Asgrow, Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred and DNA Plant Technology (DNAP). USAID states that SARB’s objective is to provide the 'regulatory foundation to support field testing of genetically engineered products'.

Prior to the South African project the ABSP financed the testing of the same Spunta GM potato in Egypt for 8 years. In 1998 independent tests carried out by the Egyptian University revealed that rats fed GM potatoes developed lesions in their small intestines. Although this potato was not the ABSP Spunta potato, it contained a similar Bt gene. The Egyptian government subsequently refused approval. ABSP then set their sites on the South African regulatory system and used their SARB employee Muffy Koch to guide their application through the regulatory system. Koch applied privately on behalf of the Agricultural Research Council, using her company name Golden Genetics. There was much criticism of this in the local newspapers at the time. Not only was it strange that she was employed by SARB but she had also served on the advisory committee of the South African GMO (genetically modified organism) regulatory authority. The strategy was to use the Agricultural Research Council as the applicant to overcome public resistance to large American-owned seed companies. In July 2008 industry press agent Hans Lombard even tried to pass this off as 'Africa's first GM crop' 'developed by South Africans' using an unwitting or corrupt IOL journalist. If this project was accepted it would open the flood gates for these big seed companies to bring more and more GM products into Africa.

Hence the continued play on the words 'public-funded' by the plotters of this deception.

Webster further attempts to achieve SARB's objective to apply pressure to the regulators through this false statement: 'By denying the application at this stage, the South African regulators have effectively decided on behalf of farmers and circumvented the farmers' access to an evaluation of the improved potato.' Once more another untruth even more blatant than the disproved estimates which Webster claims farmers suffer. To the credit of the ARC, Potato South Africa, representing both commercial and small-scale farmers, have been participating all along in this process and have been kept fully informed of all evaluations. It is the farmers who have opposed this GM potato.


Sunday 13 December 2009

Agro-ecological farmer in USA leads the way for food sovereignty in Africa

Helena proudly holds a non-genetically modified corn cob
Jim's daughter Helena holds up one of their open pollinated ears of Goliath Silo corn. This variety was developed over 100 years ago and is not a hybrid. It grew with half our normal rainfall in nothing but composted manure for fertilizer. Her father Jim Snyder says " I would like to see Monsanto try to top this with their Frankencorn!"

Another month to mature and some plants already 15 feet with half our normal rainfall. Jim's wife is nearly 6 feet tall with her hat on as a comparison for height. Planted around May 30 with my drill on 15 inch rows. This photo taken Aug. 16, 2009. Yes, there are a few weeds when one is totally organic!

Mixed crops of squash, corn and sunflowers

The pole beans will grow up the sunflowers
and corn eliminating the need for staking

Jim uses only composted goat, chicken and cattle manure which he composts in windrows, this reaches a high temperature 140 F which kills all weed seeds and pathogens. He interplants and rotates with legumes to provide nitrogen.

Jim believes that good breeding pays dividends

A result of 4 years of breeding. Buddy is a beautiful thick muscled yearling buck with a mother who can deliver a up to a gallon of milk a day. He is as friendly as can be.

Jim's first registered Belted Galloway cow.
"Connie of Geers Farm" has given 3 calves in 3 years. She is very friendly and is Jim's favorite cow. He selected her from a group of 40 calves.

A.J. and T-Bone

Jim wisely crosses his dairy cattle for hybrid vigour. Here Jim's 9 year old son A.J. contemplates whether T-Bone, a Jersey x Holstein steer will end up as his name implies or whether he will take on the Holstein physique and become a useful trek-ox.
The Holstein and the closely related Friesland strain of dairy cattle produce excellent trek- oxen for ploughing and transport.
A.J. is already a competent tractor operator and has on several occasions in the last cold spell pulled his dad out of the ice and snow with the John Deere 4010. "Boy-Power" is a blessing which Jim is very privileged to have on his eco-farm.

Jim says "We do not bring our cattle in at night. They have their favorite areas around the farm where they rest out of the wind in huge fencerows with plenty of cover and various large rock piles that store heat. Despite the cold, very few of the cattle farmers here bring their cattle into a barn at night.

By moving the bale feeders and water troughs around to spread the manure concentration around the grazing area. He uses a loader (scotch cart) to pick up any excess manure and then compost it out in a big windrow. It steams while breaking down any weed seeds and pathogens as the internal temperature exceeds 140 deg F. It is then transferred to garden areas the next season. The same cart transports forage.

Jim plants maize (corn) as fodder
but in the African climate Sorghum
may be preferable as like grass it can
be harvested several times a season.

Oats and clover (legumes to provide nitrogen)
are also planted as a forage crop.

Goats and cattle love this hay

Helena's Pet Frog

This photograph of Helena symbolises the importance of life on an agro-ecological farm.
Can you imagine bringing up your children on a clinically sterile industrial factory farm?
No thank you.
Jim's farm will still be sustainable when fossil fuels such as coal and petrol run out within the next fifteen years. He can run his tractors on biogas from biodigesters. He can train his oxen to plough.
Jim Snyders presently works as an agricultural expert with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He runs the informative forum Farmers for a Sustainable Future which all farmers or those interested in farming are encouraged to join. He is a fountain of knowledge and expertise and always willing to advise.

Friday 11 December 2009

Hepatorenal Toxicity in 3 approved GM food crops

These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.

A new peer reviewed study by the independent Crigen Laboratories and published in the esteemed International Journal of Biological Sciences concludes that# GM crops, namely MON 863, MON 810 and NK 603 previously approved by the European Genetically Modified Regulatory Authority (EFSA) and by other countries should now be recalled and be animal feeding studiesd for at least two years.

For the first time comparative blood and organ analysis of rats fed three main commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize (NK 603, MON 810, MON 863), which are present in food and feed in the world. NK 603 has been modified to be tolerant to the broad spectrum herbicide Roundup. MON 810 and MON 863 are engineered to synthesize two different Bacillus thuringiensis-derived proteins (Bt) toxins used as insecticides. As a result, the potential effects on physiological parameters, due either to the recognized mutagenic effects of the GM transformation process or to the presence of the above mentioned novel pesticides within these plants can be evaluated in animal feeding studies.
The analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days.
Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system.
They conclude that the data highlights signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown. Furthermore, any side effect linked to the GM event will be unique in each case as the site of transgene insertion and the spectrum of genome wide mutations will differ between the three modified maize types.
Read More

New Zealanders give "Thumbs Up" for Ban on GMO's

Public Give "Thumbs Up'"for Ban on GMO's
Friday, 11 December 2009, 10:01 am
Press Release: Jon Carapiet

Most people across the Auckland and Northland region want companies using Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) to be held strictly liable for damage, and in some areas most want a ban.
A poll conducted by a multi-council working group on regulation of GM organisms found that all communities strongly favour making users of GMOs legally responsible for any economic or environmental harm that may result. Under the current HSNO Act, no strict liability exists.
Around two thirds of those polled want regulation to make users of GMOs strictly liable for any harm caused, with support ranging from 63% to 72% for individual councils.
The survey also showed that around half the residents (a range of 44% to 55%) want councils to have the right to ban GM plants and animals.
The poll also found clear support from the Northland and Auckland communities for establishing a GM-Free Zone, meaning only producing food that is GM free.
"The current threat from factory farming in the south island to the New Zealand Brand shows how vulnerable the whole country is to rogue elements, and how important it is to protect our brand values of clean, green, sustainable, ethical, nuclear-free and GM-free," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE Free NZ (in food and environment).

Read more

Tuesday 08 December 2009

Copenhagen's Top item:Enron and Goldman Sach's proposals

The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what's really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you've heard about cap and trade, but aren't sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you.
The future of the planet is at stake and it's up to all of us to understand where we're heading and to help change course before it's too late. This movie is meant to start the conversation about the future we really want.

Click here to take action

Monday 07 December 2009

Missouri District Court awards farmers compensation for GM contamination of their crops

Dec 05, 2009, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

$2 million verdict against Bayer CropScience

Bayer CropScience LP must pay about $2 million for losses sustained by two Missouri farmers when an experimental variety of rice the company was testing cross-bred with their crops, a federal jury ruled.

Today's verdict in St. Louis came in the first trial in what is intended to be a series of test cases against the unit of Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer AG. The jury of four men and five women began deliberating on Dec. 2, about a month after it began hearing claims brought by Kenneth Bell and Johnny Hunter.

"This is a huge victory, not only for Kenny and me, but for every farmer in America who was harmed by Bayer's LibertyLink rice contamination," Hunter said in a statement. The verdict gave the company "the wake-up call they deserved."

Farmers from Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi have filed more than 1,000 similar cases against Bayer since the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in August 2006 that trace amounts of the genetically modified LibertyLink rice were found in U.S. long-grain rice stocks.

Bayer and Louisiana State University had been testing the rice, which was bred to be resistant to Bayer's Liberty-brand herbicide, at a school-run facility in Crowley, Louisiana. The variety eventually "contaminated" more than 30 percent of U.S. ricelands, said Don Downing, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, at the start of the trial.

The company denied the testing program had been negligently managed.

The jury awarded only compensatory damages and rejected the farmers' request for a punitive judgment. Grant Davis, one of the farmer's lawyers, had told jurors an $80 million punitive award was "not too much to send a message."

'Not Careful'

In a post-verdict statement, the company said it was "pleased" with the jury's rejection of the farmers' request for a punitive award.

"Bayer CropScience is disappointed in the previous award of compensatory damages in the trial and will be studying that decision in detail and considering its options," it said.

In closing arguments, Downing told the jury that Bayer CropScience officials "were not careful."

"If you're trying to be careful, you don't go near where other rice is," Downing said.

Within four days of the 2006 USDA announcement, rice futures plunged, costing U.S. growers about $150 million, according to a consolidated complaint filed by the farmers. Exports fell as the European Union, Japan, Russia and other overseas markets slowed purchases of U.S.-grown long-grain rice for testing or stopped importing it, the growers said.

$1.96 Million

The jury awarded Bell about $1.96 million and Hunter $53,336. Bayer's negligence cost Bell more than $2.2 million, Downing said during the trial. Hunter quit rice farming and lost about $50,000 because of the contamination, Downing said.

Lead defense lawyer Mark Ferguson told jurors that the farmers built their case "on half-truths and creating confusion." The trace amounts of the modified rice posed no safety risk, the company said.

"This jury can send a message that you are not going to be able to contaminate our food," Downing said of Bayer during the punitive damages portion of the trial.

Ferguson countered that the burden of proof for making such an award was greater than that used by the jury to determine his client's negligence.

"The scales have to tip a lot more than they do in this case," he said.

Bayer Lax

Juror Melissa McConnell, 30, of Maryland Heights, in an interview after the trial, said she and her colleagues found that Bayer had been lax in its handling of the experimental seed.

She also explained why she and the eight other members of the panel rejected the farmers' request for a punitive award.

"In our instructions it said that it had to be proven that Bayer knew what would happen if it got out, and we had to find that they had done it on purpose," McConnell said. "Sure, Bayer knew what would happen, but it wasn't proven to us that they did this on purpose. Both points weren't proven."

While the USDA later approved Bayer CropScience's biotech rice to be grown and sold for human consumption, it hasn't been commercially marketed.

The USDA never determined how the LibertyLink rice had entered the nation's long-grain rice supply, Bayer CropScience's statement said.

"I really do hope that this verdict will force Bayer to stop being reckless with its experimental programs," Hunter said.

The next test, or bellwether trial, involving farmers from Arkansas and Mississippi, is scheduled to start on Jan. 11 in St. Louis. The case is In Re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, 06-md-01811, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).

Sunday 06 December 2009

Africa's stance on UNFCC Climate Change Negotiations at Copenhagen

Challenges African leaders on Climate Change

Bole Declaration; 25th November, 2009; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

We, the ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA (AFSA), representing small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples, citizens and environmentalists from Africa, salute the strong and unified approach that African leaders have taken in the run up to the UNFCC Climate Negotiations.

However, we believe that the current African government practices do not go far enough to protecting Africa’s Food Sovereignty, Biodiversity, and the Culture and Livelihoods of her people.

Developed countries have not met their obligations to cap and reduce emissions to mitigate climate change and have not provided adequate support for adaptation in Africa and other developing nations.
Many of the so-called solutions proposed by the developed countries to address the climate crises are False Solutions. These include: biochar, agrofuels, hybrid and GM drought tolerant crops, carbon trading and so forth.

The developed countries' positions are calculated to distract Africa from pursuing genuine solutions towards empowering communities towards attaining Food Sovereignty, conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and increasing the resilience of Africans to cope with the challenges posed by Climate Change.

We demand that African Leaders:
Champion Small African Family Farming Systems based on agro ecological and Indigenous approaches that sustain food sovereignty and the livelihoods of communities while not neglecting other appropriate farming models;
Protect the rights of the African people to indigenous seeds, plant and animal genetic resources and combat bio-piracy;
Resist the Corporate Industrialization of African agriculture which will result in massive land grabs, displacement of indigenous peoples especially the pastoral communities and hunter gatherers and the destruction of their livelihoods and cultures;
Reject the corporate takeover of African land, food production systems, indigenous knowledge and resources; and
Bring to an end the continued exploitation of African resources for the consumerist demands of the North.

Africa will be watching her leaders at the upcoming Climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December and will hold them accountable for their engagements and decisions.

Remember that what we do now will have an impact on the current and future generations.

Signed by:

African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)
Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN)
Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS)
Eastern and Southern African small scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF)
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC)
Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association


Eastern and Southern Africa small scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF)
ESAFF is a network of grass root farmers’ forums in 12 countries namely: Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

ESAFF supports the promotion of sustainable agriculture, organizational development of farmer forums, organization development, advocacy on governance, farmers’ visibility, the right to food, advocacy on land rights, campaigns against GMOS, unfavorable regional and international trade agreements and climate change.

African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)
ACB is an NGO in South Africa campaigning for food sovereignty by opposing GMOS, Bio-Piracy and agro fuels. ACB concentrates on Africa and work with several national, regional and international organizations

Indigenous peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC)
IPACC is a network of 150 indigenous organizations in 20 African countries focusing on:
- The promotion, recognition & identity of indigenous peoples in Africa
- Enhancing participation and inclusion of indigenous people in the UN and other forums at all levels
-Building capacities of indigenous peoples’ on climate change issues
- Strengthening sub regions networking strategies for lobbying & advocacy on the rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples’.

Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN)
COPAGEN comprises a membership of farmers’ organizations, trade unions, women organizations, youth groups, academics, NGOs in ten countries; Benin, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and the Ivory Coast.

COPAGEN works on the following issues: GMOs, farmers’ rights, land issues, agrofuels, agricultural policies and food sovereignty.

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association
PELUM has a membership of 207 organizations spread over ten countries namely; Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

PELUM works on the following issues;
Ecological land use management
Markets and fair trade
Access to resources
Campaign against GMOs
Climate change adaptation

Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) International
COMPAS Membership /Coverage is in eight countries in Africa; Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso. COMPAS also has a membership in Latin and Central America, Asia and Europe and includes 15 universities from these countries

COMPAS is promoting an inter-cultural approach to addressing issues of climate change, food sovereignty, governance and local economic development.

African Biodiversity Network (ABN)
The ABN has a membership of 36 organizations in 12 African countries Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Malawi.

ABN works on indigenous knowledge, ecosystems protection, climate change, recuperation of indigenous seeds, campaign against GMOs, agro fuels, AGRA and promotes endogenous development.

"Poor Washing" Africa. What everyone should know about AGRA

Compressed for quick viewing.

Anuradha Mittal tells National Lawyers Guild Conference in Seattle the way it is. Get real. Get with the program.

Thursday 03 December 2009

Vandana Shiva: The Future of Food 2009 -Part 1

This is more than about the safety of GM foods for humans and the environment; it's about the ability of all of us to have a choice of the foods that we eat, and for our farmers to be able to freely use their own seeds, and grow food in the manner that they choose.

Tuesday 01 December 2009

Build a Family Farm Biodigester for R500

Listen to Make a Difference by South African Band Tucan-Tucan

For expert advice on building biodigesters and agro-ecological farming contact Tarirai at the Forest-Vale Agro-Ecological Project

For farming systems to be sustainable there should be a close relationship among the different components that interact in the conversion of solar energy and soil nutrients into food of animal and plant origin for the benefit of both the consumer and the producer.
As a result of the increasing emphasis on the promotion of farming systems based on the sustainable use of natural resources, it is now appreciated that the biodigester should be considered in a much wider perspective and specifically in its potential role for the recycling of plant nutrients. This process has implications both as a means of reducing the dependence on inorganic fertilizers and for facilitating the production of foods and feeds of organic origin.

Read More Low-cost biodigesters as the epicenter of agro-ecological farming

The simplest and often most effective design for small farmers has no moving parts. Central to the operation and common to all manure plant designs' is an enclosed tank called a digester. This is an airtight tank which may be filled with raw organic waste and from which the final slurry and generated gas may be drawn. Differences in the design of these tanks are based primarily on the material to be fed to the generator, the cycle of fermentation desired and the temperatures under which the plant will operate.

Tanks designed for the digestion of liquid or suspended-solid waste (such as cow manure) may be filled and emptied with pipes and pumps. However, circulation through the digester may also be achieved without pumps by allowing old slurry to overflow the tank as fresh material is fed in by gravity. An advantage of the gravity system is its ability to handle bits of chopped vegetable matter which would clog pumps. This is quite desirable, since the vegetable waste provides more carbon than the nitrogen-rich animal manure.
Another advantage to this is that there are no moving parts, gravity plus the build up of gas pressure forces the digested slurry out the exit. This system can be operated with the fresh manure/organic feedstock feed in by wheelbarrow for the smaller farmer.

Installing a $50 biodigester in a trench.

Uses of Bio-slurry

a. Fertiliser
Fertilizer is an essential input for any crop. The slurry is rich in various plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potash. Well-fermented biogas slurry improves the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil resulting qualitative as well as quantitative yield of food crops. Nitrogen remains in the effluent of biofertilizer from the slurry, while
some escapes as ammonia gas. When the effluent is dried, most of the nitrogen is lost.
Slurry from the biogas plant is more than a soil conditioner, which builds good soil texture,
provides and releases plant nutrients.
It was found that the slurry from anaerobic fermentation of a biogas digester improves the
physical and chemical properties of the soil. Since there are no more parasites and pathogens
in the slurry, it is highly recommended for use in farming. The economic value of the slurry
shows that investment can be gained back in three to four year's time if slurry is properly
b. Feeding fish and animals
Other uses of the slurry include putting it into ponds as feed for algae, water hyacinth, fish or ducks; using it in hydroponics, where plants are grown in a nutrient rich solution on a gravel bed or even using it as feed supplement for pigs and chickens. The author conducted an experiment in feeding slurry (about 15%) to the fishpond and about 200 fishes were harvested at the end of the experiment.

c. Mushroom cultivation
The slurry coming from the plants can also be used for mushroom cultivation. The slurry mixed with powder of rice straw or wheat straw, water, lime, urea, calcium super phosphate, powder of maize when put in a plastic bag with some seeds of mushroom and keeping in a room temperature of about 22-25 degree Celsius will be ready for cultivation within about six
weeks. The author conducted this experiment in Butwal.
d. Earthworm cultivation
The byproduct received from mushroom cultivation can be used for feeding animals as well as for earthworm cultivation used for feeding chickens. This was observed at Sichuan
Province of China.
e. Other advantages
Environmental pollution control
Environmental sanitation
Drudgery reduction

Since biogas is a high quality fuel, it can be used for many purposes besides cooking and lighting, such as fuel for running dual fuel engine, for agro-processing, pumping water and for generating electricity. A brief description of each use is given below:

Uses of biogas

Since biogas is a high quality fuel, it can be used for many purposes besides cooking and lighting, such as fuel for running dual fuel engine, for agro-processing, pumping water and for generating electricity. A brief description of each use is given below:
a. Cooking
The main use of biogas, at present, is for domestic purposes, such as cooking and lighting. About one cubic foot of gas may be generated from one pound of cow manure. This is enough gas to cook a day's meals for 4-6 people.
Biogas can be used with suitably designed burners to give a clean, smokeless, blue flame, which is ideal for cooking. More than 87 percent of the people in Nepal use firewood for cooking. If the trend continues all forest will disappear in less than 25 years.
It is believed that biogas will help in reducing deforestation as majority of the biogas owners use the gas for cooking.

b. Lighting
Most of the Nepalese people in rural settlements use kerosene for lighting lamps. Nepal has no indigenous sources of kerosene. As such the country has to spend scarce foreign exchange and supplies are often unpredictable. Biogas owners especially in the hillswhere there is no electricity prefer the use of biogas facilities for lighting.

c. Operating dual fuel engines
Biogas is a high-grade fuel, which means that it can be used in internal combustion engines. It is more usual to use it in dual-fuel engines which are adopted diesel engines that still use 20-30 percent diesel along with 70-80 percent biogas to provide ignition.
About 70% of diesel requirement can be replaced by biogas for running dual fuel engines such as Kirloskar, Usha etc. These engines can be used as follows:

• For running agro-processing equipment
• For pumping water for irrigation
• For generating electricity


There are various methods of increasing gas production in cold climates, especially in winter months. Some of them are described below.

Compost for Heat Generation
It is interesting to note that using a portion of the gas generated to heat the water is entirely feasible... the resulting enormously-increased rate of gas production more than compensates for the gas thus burned.

One of the most important factors affecting biogas is the temperature. The optimum temperature for methane producing bacteria is about 35 degree Celsius. When the slurry temperature is low, the gas production is greatly reduced. At 10 degree, the production of biogas more or less stops. Insulation of dome with compost is one of the best methods for
heat generation for smaller dome type biogas plants.
A compost pile can generate significant amount of heat from decomposition of organic materials such as agricultural residue, straw, grasses etc. Decomposition can be accelerated by the addition of water with effluent from the plant. The effect of compost for heat generation greatly varies with the height of the compost pile and the time it takes to decompose. The height should be not less than a meter or so. The compost should be piled on the
top of the plant for insulation.

This experiment was done in GGC office at Butwal in Oct. 1982, in a 10 cum dome plant.
The plant was daily fed with 60 kg of cow dung. Daily gas production, temperature of the slurry as well as compost was measured.
A similar 10 cum plant at Kalikanagar, near Butwal was used as control measuring daily gas production as well as temperature. It was also fed with equal amount of manure daily with that of the first plant. The slurry temperature inside the digester was 2.03 degree Celsius more in
the plant with compost. Similarly the gas production was increased by about 22.3%.
A similar experiment was conducted in Kathmandu, and the gas production was increased by about 51%. This shows that the effect of composting is more in cooler place (Kathmandu) than in warmer place (Butwal).
Thus compost is more than a fertilizer and more than a soil conditioner. Compost generates heat for the plants, but also builds good soil texture and structure, provides and releases plant nutrients, protects against drought and stops nutrient loss through leaching but also stimulates the growth of the plants.

Utilization of Waste heat from biogas power generation

A heat exchanger was applied in a 500 cf. steel drum plant at Bhutaha of Nawalparasi, the
gas of which was used in 7 HP engine for agro-processing on experimental basis. The gas production was increased by about 37% in winter, assuming that only 50% gas is produced in a similar plant of the same capacity without having heat exchanger.
A similar experiment was also conducted in R&D office of GGC at Butwal.
The engine installed was of water cooling system. One heat exchanger assembly is made up of concentric GI pipes connecting between the engine and heat exhaust silencer and uses waste heat from the exhaust gas to heat water. The other part of the heat exchanger was placed one foot above the digester base and heats the slurry in the digester. A valve can
adjust the amount of cooling water flowing through the engine. Maximum heat was generated when the water is flowing at the rate of 2 lit. /min. as the flow rate increased the temperature decreased and vice versa.
Thus using gas heat from an engine is one of the best ways to maximize biogas production in winter in large size plants, by increasing the temperature of the slurry.

Solar radiation
In this process the influent (gobar mixed with water) in the inlet can be warmed under the sun by covering with a plastic sheet and let the influent enter inside the digester at about 2-3 p.m.
This experiment was conducted at GGC R&D Unit at Butwal by the author. GGC experiences showed that this process could increase about 5-8% of the gas production.

Insulation with straw
Insulation can also be done with straw, rice husk and so on. Their thermal conductivity is 23 times lower than that of soil and condenses to run off leaving the insulation dry.
Similarly plastic sheets like polyethylene can be used as a cover over insulating materials to reduce the amount of materials required. As light penetrates the plastic, it is transformed into the longer heat waves. The heat enhances evaporation of moisture from the insulating material and ground below.
The gas can further be increased when cow or horse manure was mixed with other feeding materials such as poultry dropping, piggery and night soil.

Biodigester effluent versus manure, from pigs or cattle, as fertilizer for duckweed

It has long been known that pond plants produce high protein feed for dairy, beef, pigs and chickens.

Read more about pond plants as livestock feed

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