From Chapter 6, the Emerging Sustainable Economy, Lowe, Ernest. 2002. Eco-Industrial Park Handbook for Asian Developing Countries, prepared for Asian Development Bank. Click for full Handbook
Suppliers of equipment, energy, materials, and services to farmers
Firms utilizing by-products
agro-eco-industrial park or estate is strategically very important to
sustainable development. Around the world conventional agribusiness is
dependent upon unsustainable, polluting, and costly petrochemical
inputs; it is destructive of soil and water resources. Its
industrialized nature and emphasis upon export crops undermines rural
communities and their livelihood in indigenous crops. Conventional
agriculture violates all principles of sustainable development.
Farmers in many Asian
countries, including Japan, Thailand, China, India, and the Philippines
have been developing sustainable agriculture practices appropriate to
their regions, often with the support of institutes such as the
International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (near Manila) and the
Food and Fertilizer Technology Center (Taipei). Often the
“innovations” of sustainable farming are simply the
relearning of traditional practices. A large scale field test in
China in the late 1990s demonstrated that increasing the diversity of
rice strains --
instead of growing only one strain as a monocrop – almost doubled
productivity while eliminating most of destruction of crops by fungus
and chemical inputs. (Youyong Zhu et al 2000) In Thailand government
policy is seeking to regain, through sustainable agriculture
the productivity lost to exhaustion of soil by industrialized
farming on former forest land. (Buch-Hansen. 2000 and Setboonsarng and
On the demand side,
the market for organically produced grains, fruit, and vegetables is
growing rapidly in Europe, the US, and Japan and beginning to open in
some developing countries. (Kortbech-Olesen. 2000) Organic produce
sells at premium prices, and many leading supermarkets now feature
organic sections. There is growing evidence of a trend toward
sustainable agriculture driven by the need to conserve soil, water, and
energy in food production and pulled by consumer demand for a
healthful, non-polluted food supply.
The transition to
sustainable farming requires the support of a unique cluster of
companies that developers of agro-eco-parks can target for recruitment.
We will build the model for this theme EIP and outline the likely
tenants from proposals for agro-industrial parks in the Philippines,
Thailand, Puerto Rico, and the US.
agro-eco-industrial estate begins by using the basic strategies of
eco-industrial parks regarding site selection and development, building
standards, infrastructure, and management. The opportunity for
profitable by-product flows between tenants is particularly high with
the biomass, energy, and water intensive companies in food processing.
The recruitment for an agro-park focuses on the cluster of companies
that support sustainable farming, helping farmers and agribusiness
realize several basic objectives:
Achieving these objectives of sustainable agriculture calls for a very different support system than the present agribusiness suppliers of petrochemically-derived fertilizers and pesticides, heavy farm equipment, and international commodity marketing.
The support system for sustainable farming includes several basic types of firms and agencies which may be recruited as tenants of an agro-eco-industrial estate:
Tenants of an EIP
Field equipment for sustainable farming is generally lighter weight, more energy efficient, and often seeks to optimize the continued use of human labor. In arid and semi-arid regions water conserving irrigation technologies are especially important, such as drip systems and soil monitoring systems. Equipment for monitoring of nutrients as well as moisture in soil enables farmers to apply various organic fertilizers and water in an efficient manner. The equipment needs of small-scale farmers may be defined primarily by the devices of appropriate technology, relatively simple tools to support productive farming.
Energy needs in food
processing are intensive so an agro-park will seek ways to use
co-generation energy and renewable sources. Location near a
conventional power plant could yield steam and hot water for heating
and cooling processes. A potential provider of renewable energy is a
firm utilizing biomass by-products of
farming and food production. It
might operate as a distributed energy firm generating electricity and
fertilizer from animal manure (with anaerobic digestors and generators
it owns located on farms and dairies). An alternative would be an
ethanol fermentation plant using crop and food wastes or
bioenergy crops such as cassava as input. Fuel cell technology is
evolving and methane from biomass processing could be a good
source of hydrogen.
Suppliers of integrated pest management (IPM) services and products are critical to reducing the toxic outputs of farming and maintaining high productivity. These companies provide training, consulting, and beneficial predator insects and other organisms that serve as the natural enemies of common pests, without themselves becoming pests. IPM strategies need to be carefully tailored to local climates and ecosystems.
training firms and agricultural extension agencies play an
important role in helping farmers to learn or relearn
ecologically-sound farming practices. This is especially true for
employees of industrialized farms and for small to mid-scale farmers
who have become dependent upon petrochemical fertilizers and
pesticides. An agro-park would include office and classroom space for
programs which could be funded by processing and distribution firms,
agricultural agencies, and development aid grants.
A marketing co-op,
direct marketing, or distribution center for fruits and vegetables
emphasizing delivery of organic produce to market is an essential
tenant of an agro-park. The co-op and direct marketing approaches
increase farm revenues, as community supported agriculture (CSA) has
demonstrated in Japan, Europe, and the US. (See page on CSA and Full Belly
Farm.) There are relatively few organic tropical fruits in the US
market and the US, Europe, and Japan all show growing demand for all
forms of organic produce.
The possible food processing EIP tenants fall into three major processing categories, fruit and vegetable, dairy, and meat, fish, and poultry. A Yale University industrial ecology study for the Arecibo, Puerto Rico EIP details the processes involved, emphasizing the potential by-product usage.
“The processing of vegetables has two major components. The first is the fresh pack segment, during which produce is sorted, trimmed, washed, graded, and packed. The second processing segment involves peeling, stemming, pitting, trimming, chopping, and blanching. Depending on how the produce is to be preserved, this step may also include dehydration, brining, freezing, or cooking. Fruit follows a similar path to the marketplace, with a few additional steps, like pitting and slicing. Fruit is most commonly preserved by canning, freezing, or fermenting. Most of these steps require water to help transport the produce and wash the equipment. Due to its heavy load of organic material, fruit processing results in a liquid waste with about ten times the BOD (biological oxygen demand) of domestic sewage as well as elevated TSS (total suspended solids). Other significant residues of fruit and vegetable processing are the solids consisting of peels, pits, cores, and trimmings. These easily biodegradable organic materials are frequently used as animal feeds. They could also be digested anaerobically, fermented for ethanol production, or composted.
processing involves the pasteurization and homogenization of milk, and
production of other products like butter, ice cream, and cheese.
Wastewater from this type of processing carries large amounts of
lactose, proteins, and fat. This means elevated BOD and also
fats, oil, and grease. This content causes problems for
conventional wastewater treatment systems that don’t deal well
with oily wastes. Here again anaerobic digestion would provide
the best option for breaking down these more complex organic materials.
meat, fish, and poultry processing industry slaughters and processes
into a variety of products. The first steps of slaughtering,
segregating the carcass portions, and packing the meat are shared for
both fresh and prepared meat products. However, canned cooked
products, dried products, luncheon meats, hot dogs, bacons, stews, and
other ready-to-eat meat products require additional processing
steps. Most solid residues are recovered by the industry.
Meat scraps, blood, feathers, and bone are transformed into animal and
pet foods. Wastewater requires extensive treatment to reduce its
organic loads (CAST, 1995). Anerobic digestion or ethanol fermentation
are two alternative means to reclaim value from many meat and poultry
“In general the processors add substantial value to food products. A close relationship with this industry would be beneficial to both the food processors and the farms in the EIP’s region. The farms could provide the processors with a steady supply of organically grown and raised fruits, vegetables, and livestock, while the processors could provide the farms with animal feeds and organic fertilizer or compost, rather than disposing of this material as process wastes.” (Abuyuan et al 1999)
The Puerto Rican
project as well as a proposed agro-EIP in the Philippines emphasize the
value to food processors of using by-product steam and hot water from
other EIP tenants and in turn having their material and water
by-products used by other processors or farms. (Meganomics 2000)
State-of-the-art facility design is important to avoid one historic
by-product of animal and fish processing – the smell which makes
such plants undesirable neighbors to communities!
We have indicated the
major opportunities for recruitment for this category in our discussion
of food processors – energy generators, manufacturers using
biomass by-products, animal feed processors, greenhouses and
aquaculture ponds, and a composting yard.
generation companies, using the farm and food processing by-products
mentioned above, are important possible tenants in an agro-EIP. They
include an ethanol fermentation plant and a system for anerobic
digestion of farm and food processing by-products, which could use
distributed systems as well as a site at the park. Both businesses make
important contributions to closed-loop production and cost reductions
for other tenants.
The Yale report for
the Puerto Rican EIP summarizes possible ethanol feedstocks:
“Recent technological developments have enabled the production of
ethanol from much cheaper sources, called “lignocellulosic
biomass.” This refers to the leafy or woody portions of a
plant that are inedible for humans. Such breakthroughs have
vastly expanded the range of suitable feedstocks for ethanol production
and reduced production costs (Shleser, 1994). Today, ethanol can
be generated from grass crops such as napier grass, switchgrass, and
sugarcane, tree crops including leucaena and eucalyptus, sweet sorghum,
crop residues like corn stover, bagasse, potato waste, and citrus
waste, and intriguing new sources like municipal solid waste,
newspaper, yard and wood waste, and cellulosic fiber fines from
recycled paper mills (Jeffries, 1995).” (Abuyuan et al 1999)
Firms utilizing anerobic digestion to reclaim organic by-products are another major renewable energy recruitment target. These include manufacturers and suppliers of the digestor and generator systems, and firms using food, farm, and residential/commercial organic discards to produce methane, electric power, and benign liquid and solid fertilizer. Anaerobic digestors utilize bacteria specific to the input mix for the conversion of organic material into methane and nutrients. (For some feedstocks aerobic digestion may be superior.) The system is completed by gen sets with energy efficiency improvement systems enabling recovery of heat usually wasted.
Since the technology can be efficiently operated at small to medium scale, a business could operate a network of distributed systems installed at the site of production of farm or landfill organic wastes as well as a central facility in an appropriate location. Dairy, poultry, pork, and fish farming, cattle feedlots, and processing plants generate high levels of wastes, which are costly economically and environmentally. This company would offer efficient discard management solutions to the food producers and processors along with a renewable source of energy. (Based on US EPA AgStar program material. www.epa.
Other organic by-product processors include: a composting yard which would directly process farm and food processing discards as well as the solid by-products of energy plants; a specialty paper minimill using rice straw and other farm fiber by-products; a bioplastics or other biomaterials plant using some components of the by-product stream as well as crops grown for this purpose such as bamboo, kenaf, or industrial hemp. Living Machines is an ecological water treatment system that complements the functions of the technologies just described. It has been used in major food industry applications in the US and Brazil. See Chapter 4 for details.
Greenhouses and aquaculture ponds are another way to utilize by-product water, energy, and biomass from other tenants of an agro-park. These operations could be tenants on the site or in neighboring agricultural land. When operated within agro-ecological guidelines they offer high productivity, high value products, and low environmental impact. The ZERI brewery case study indicates a few of the potential linkages. The Integrated Bio-systems Network web site provides many field reports on similar projects in developing countries. http://www.ias.unu.edu/proceedings/icibs/ibs/ibsnet/
Brewery in Namibia
The Zero Emissions
Research Initiative (ZERI) is a worldwide network that researches and
fosters eco-industrial development initiatives. ZERI serves as a public
think-tank providing technical and scientific information for the
advancement of these projects. This initiative started in 1994 in Japan
through collaboration between the United Nations University (UNU) and
ZERI. The first Zero Emission World Conference was held in Tokyo in
1995 and many from both public and private sectors participated in the
meeting and introduced the idea to their communities.
ZERI projects tend to
focus in industries generating large wastestreams of biomass, such as
beer breweries and other food and beverage plants. Namibia Breweries
Limited and the University of Namibia have created the ZERI-BAG
(Brewing-Aquaculture-Agriculture) project at the Tunweni Brewery at
Tsumeb in the North of this southern African country. The project seeks
to use the solid and liquid waste streams of the sorghum brewery as
production inputs to an integrated farming system near the facility.
The brewery’s outputs include sewage treated in a biodigester, plant wash down and boiler blow down water, and spent grains with high carbohydrate content. The plan for this project envisions the following by-product flows:
Variations on this
sort of brewery, agriculture, agriculture symbiosis are under
development in China, Fiji, Japan and other countries.
close linkage to farming suggests other tenants that are particularly
suitable for this type of development. Manufacturers using primary
biomaterials such as kenaf, hemp, or bamboo could find business
synergies with other manufacturing tenants as well as their nearby
suppliers. Resource recovery tenants serving the broader community
could collaborate with those only functioning within the site.
Hawken, Iona, Williams, Roger. and Newkirk, Michael. 1999. Waste Equals
Food: Developing a Sustainable Agriculture Support Cluster for Renova
Resource Recovery Park Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Report from a graduate
industrial ecology project by students at Yale University, School of
Forestry. New Haven, CT.
Meganomics Specialists International. 2000. Sustainable Agro-Industrial Development - A Proposal for the Bulacan Housing and Agro-Industrial (BUHAI) Project. Manila, Philippines.
Electronic Conference Proceedings:
Sununtar Setboonsarng and Jonathan Gilman. 1999. Alternative agriculture in Thailand and Japan. Asian Institute of Technology http://www.solutions-site.org/cat11_sol85.htm
Mogens Buch-Hansen. 2000. Sustainable Agriculture in Thailand, is it feasible? Working Paper of Roskilde University, Denmark. http://www.globasia.dk/papers/MBH(01-00)2.htm
Rudy Kortbech-Olesen. 2000, Export Opportunities of Organic Food from Developing Countries. WorldOrganics 2000, London, 9-10 May 2000. http://www.ifoam.org/orgagri/worldorganics_2000_conference.html
International Trade Centre. 1999. Organic Food and Beverages: World Supply and Major European Markets. “One of the major conclusions of this study was that demand is growing rapidly in most markets, and that insufficient supply of organic products is the main problem rather than lack of supply. It is on this background that we believe developing countries are going to play a very important role in the global trade in organic foodstuff.”
Ökologie & Landbau (SÖL) 1999. Organic Agriculture
World-Wide - Statistics and Perspectives, on IFOAM homepage
Young, Emily. 2000.
Networks of Support for Sustainable Agriculture. Report of a Cornell
student intern’s research project for Indigo Development.
Youyong Zhu, Hairu Chen, Jinghua Fan, Yunyue Wang, Yan Li, Jianbing Chen, JinXiang Fan, Shisheng Yang, Lingping Hu, Hei Leung, Tom W. Mew, Paul S. Teng, Zonghua Wang, Christopher C. Mundt. 2000. “Genetic diversity and disease control in rice,” Nature Volume 406 Number 6797 Page 718 - 722 (2000) 17 August 2000
Food and Fertilizer
Technology Center -- An international information center for
small-scale farmers in the Asia Pacific Region
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements http://www.ifoam.org/
Institute of Rural Reconstruction offers training and support in
integrated, sustainable, people-centered development known as rural
reconstruction. Its program areas include regenerative agriculture,
environment, and natural resources as well as rural enterprise
directory of organizations world wide supporting organic agriculture,
set up by GTZ, a German overseas aid agency:
Centre for Learning,
Agriculture; and Appropriate Technology
US-AID Sustainable Agriculture site and support activities http://www.genv.org/eic/t1.htm
ZERI Foundation http://www.zeri.org/learning.htm
ZERI Research at United Nations University and University of Tokyo http://envchem.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp/ZeroEm/Welcome-e.html on “Zero Emissions Oriented Material Cycle Processes”
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