Using Animal Waste for Clean Energy in BrazilRATIONALE
In many areas of Brazil's semi-arid state of Bahia, the only livestock that can survive are goats. Tens of thousands of poor farmers depend upon these animals for survival. Due to animal waste-borne disease, up to 40 percent of the herd is lost each year—a major adverse economic impact in this desperately poor region. To make matters worse, the sandy, desert-like soil is not conducive to cultivation without fertilizer, an expensive luxury for most farmers. Finally, energy resources are also scarce (fuelwood) or expensive (liquified petroleum gas) or health-threatening (kerosene, which fills rooms with smoke).
In an earlier project, Winrock installed a demonstration unit to prove that goat wastes can be effectively managed and used as a feedstock for a low-cost biodigestion system. The system treats the manure of 150 goats and sheep to produce biogas for cooking and lighting, fertilizer for small-scale farming, and a much healthier animal herd. When adequately designed, installed, and operated, inexpensive biodigesters can greatly improve the livelihoods of thousands of poor farm families. This knowledge will come to naught, however, if local capacity is not built to carry the work forward on a sustainable basis, bringing the benefits of biodigestion to farmers throughout the region. The goal of the current project is to spread the benefits of low-cost, high-impact biodigester technology among hundreds more goat farmers.
This project will train 100 technicians and agricultural school students, forming multipliers that will reach approximately 600 farmers in the region. Two hands-on training courses will be held. Private-sector technology providers and Brazilian development banks are also being engaged in this capacity-building initiative, to bring together future clients, suppliers, and financial services. Thirty of the 100 trainees will become disseminators/replicators within their respective geographical areas to promote the application of biodigesters. This group will stimulate market demand through farmer visits to demonstration sites and technician field visits to farms, assisting farmers in implementing a system according to their needs and local conditions. Winrock and its partners will closely monitor and support these individuals as they move into the field to bring the benefits of biodigestion within reach of small farmers. This initiative will be monitored and assessed in terms of number of persons trained, number of female trainees, and success of early market development.