IBSRAM projects on
Municipal Organic Waste Recycling for Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture in Africa and Asia
IBSRAM, August 2000
For further information please contact:
Frits Penning de Vries, Director of Research, IBSRAM
Pay Drechsel, IBSRAM Regional Office for Africa
IBSRAM Regional Office for Africa
c/o KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana.
PO Box 9-109, Jatujak, Bangkok 10900,
6th Floor, Land Development Department,
2003/61 Phaholyothin Road, Jatujak,
Bangkok 10900, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 941-2500; Fax: (66-2) 561-1230
It has been estimated that within 20 years, two out of three West Africans will live in urban centres. Globally, the United Nations expects that between 1995 and 2025 the number of people living in urban areas will increase from 2.8 to 5.3 billion and that 90% of the growth will occur in developing countries, mostly in Asia and Africa. The corresponding increase in urban food demand not only challenges rural crop production, but also, increasingly, specialized urban and peri-urban farming systems.
Regarding the high price of industrial fertilizers, organic waste stream products generated in the urban and peri-urban areas are considered as valuable nutrient sources for crop production, especially for high-value crops (e.g. vegetables, ornamental plants) and for urban gardens and recreation areas.
Recycling of organic waste could in addition reduce its environmental pollution potential, increase the lifetime of landfills, and close the rural-urban nutrient cycle. However, few data exist on the amounts, quality, and availability of the different organic wastes available to recommend location-specific (composting) technologies that match the requirement and ability to pay of different (peri-) urban farming systems. The IBSRAM projects in Africa and Asia will address this knowledge gap. They are part of IBSRAM's network project 'Management of regional nutrient balances through peri-urban agriculture'.
The overall goal of both projects is to create and/or increase awareness and decision support with regard to the rural-urban nutrient cycle among municipal and national authorities. It is expected that results from these projects will contribute significantly to human capacity building towards the sustainable management of regional nutrient balances with emphasis on urban and peri-urban agriculture.
Following the IBSRAM-FAO conference/workshop on (peri-)urban agriculture and nutrient cycling1, the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada, has agreed to support a three-year-project on 'improving the rural-urban nutrient cycle through peri-urban agriculture'. The project will try to contribute to the understanding of the following questions:
- How large are the nutrient outputs in production areas for supply of urban food, fodder, fuel, etc., and by how much are these nutrient exports compensated for by inputs ?
- How much biomass and how many nutrients that arrive in the cities, are processed/consumed, and which organic waste stream products could be recycled as nutrient sources (quantity, quality, availability)?
- How large would the remaining nutrient gap (mineral fertilizer demand) be?
- Which environmentally safe nutrient sources/recycling options would fit best to what kind of farmer/farming system with regard to economic and sociocultural acceptability in each rural-urban context?
- How can we increase the awareness of different waste management/recycling options among planners, authorities, and farmers ?
- How do the flows of goods, consumption patterns, and waste recycling options vary between cities in different locations, such as the forest zone or savannah, on the coast or inland, in a Christian or an Islamic community?
The IDRC support covers about 50% of the project costs, and additional funds are being sought. In the current funding period, the project will focus on cities in different agro-ecozones, taking Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale (all in Ghana) as case studies. Other African countries will be involved through visiting scientists in this phase. Expected outputs of the project will be:
- A database on (i) rural-urban biomass (food) and nutrient flows to selected cities and (ii) on the amounts, quality, and availability of organic waste stream products produced.
- A knowledge base on environmentally safe, socially/legal acceptable, and viable options for nutrient recycling from waste stream products.
- Increased capacity of local universities on the analysis and understanding of rural-urban nutrient flows.
- Increased knowledge and decision support for municipal authorities on options for waste recycling and co-composting; and for farmers on alternative nutrient sources.
Research planning, data analysis, and interpretation are coordinated by IBSRAM, Ghana in collaboration with different national institutions and assisted by advanced research organizations (e.g. EAWAG, Switzerland) and FAO, Africa. Local universities will play a significant role in the execution of the project, via, inter alia, student projects starting in October 2000.
Analyses of nutrient balances at city levels in Asia are rare. In Bangkok, for instance, only 7 to 10% of the N and P imported in food is recycled and about 50% of food-P accumulates within the city boundaries. Authorities of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area are aware that recycling would be better, but are struggling to harness the scientific and management expertise needed to develop an improved Masterplan. In view of this, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has confirmed funding of the project 'Restoring the rural-urban nutrient cycle through peri-urban agriculture: development of an Asian consortium' being the first (preparatory phase) of a three-phase programme. Subsequent phases are: (ii) consolidation, training, and research; and (iii) further research and implementation. The preparatory phase of the programme will last one year (2001). Consolidation of the consortium (Phase 2) will require two to three years. The main phase may last 10 years as it would also include implementation.
The consortium will consist of partners from Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and possibly Cambodia and Myanmar as well as different advanced research organizations. The preparatory phase of the programme aims:
- To produce preliminary country overviews on urban-rural nutrient recycling.
- To hold an international workshop to review the country reports to analyze the state of the art in recycling organic waste, and to identify major bottlenecks from different national perspectives.
- To formulate a common workplan.
- To create a regional consortium with a steering committee of stakeholders.
The objectives of the research and implementation phases will be refined in the workshop of the preparatory phase, and will address, inter alia, outputs similar to those described above for the African project.
Both project parts will be linked to other regional and global initiatives on urban and peri-urban agriculture. Complementary projects will be sought. A sub-project on the economic assessment of the environmental impact of peri-urban agriculture is currently in preparation in Ghana.
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