Pig farmers urged to get more out of animals
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
LOCAL PIG farmers have been challenged to get more out of their animals - literally; and in the process, increase the financial returns on their investments in an environmentally friendly way.
That challenge came from Professor Jens Born, a consultant in biogas and renewable energy forms, during a recent workshop hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Jamaica.
"They need to stop wasting the (animal) waste and harness it to not only recover some of their money, but also generate income from it (waste)," he told AgroGleaner ahead of the workshop at the Engineering Department of the University of Technology (UTech). In addition to pig farmers, there were representatives of public- and private-sector companies who had come to hear about the holistic approach to optimising the benefits of on-farm developments. This includes the largely untapped local opportunities which can be realised from the generation of renewable energy from animal waste.
Born, who was visiting from Germany, toured a number of farms of members of the Jamaica Pig Farmers' Association (JPFA) to get an appreciation of the different waste-management systems used.
The visit, which covered at least 10 farms of varying sizes across four parishes, provided some insight for Born, who got a snapshot of the waste-management practices, and also informed the potential for bioenergy generation and biowaste management.
He recommended that animal, as well as human waste, can be channelled into biogas digesters, which, in addition to generating energy, could also provide fertiliser, which could then be used in crop cultivation. The electricity generated would be used for the household and the excess sold to the national grid.
With an average conversion ratio of three pounds of feed to one pound of meat, meaning that at least two out of every three pounds of meat go straight to waste, the energy consultant insisted that it was incumbent upon local pig farmers to invest in recovering some of that money.
He noted that even where biogas digesters were used, the benefits were nowhere near as much as could be derived, noting that, in most cases, only cooking gas was extracted.
Household electricity and heating for young pigs were some of the other practical applications highlighted and which the JPFA is looking to members to invest in, if they can secure affordable funding. The association is awaiting Born's recommendations, which it will use to inform a position paper to be presented to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
JPFA President Angella Bardowell told AgroGleaner that already, it has come up with a prototype for construction of more environmentally friendly and economically viable pigpens. The blueprint has already received parish council approval, she explained, with new investors being advised to go this route. In addition, some farmers are looking into retrofitting their operations to facilitate the energy overhaul.