Turning the Waste Into Gold

While most of the meat and products from cows, pigs and chickens are used, there is one by-product that is becoming a problem. Animal waste, manure specifically, is going to waste. Although used, in small quantities, as fertiliser, increased number of livestock and chickens means that it just keeps piling up, posing a serious health hazard, and not only for the immediate environment.

In BiH, animal waste is often improperly disposed of, which can cause water pollution and become a source of disease. Using animal waste in biogas powered plants to produce energy can be a solution to this problem and could also generate an additional income for farmers. At the moment, there is only one biogas powered plant in BiH located in Republika Srpska, while in Serbia there are 10 and in Croatia 32.

In order to tackle this problem from investors and farmers side, USAID Energy Investment Activity (USAID EIA), USAID/Sweden Fostering Agricultural Markets Activity (USAID/Sweden FARMA II) and GIZ Promotion of Renewable Energy (GIZ ProRE) in Bosnia and Herzegovina have organised the Workshop: “Biogas Plants – An Investment Opportunity for the Agriculture Sector”, which took place on Tuesday, 6 March 2018, in Teslic.

“Our cooperants already have a problem with this. At the moment, we are using waste as fertiliser for farmers in the area,” stated Sejfudin Hodzic, manager of Izvor blaga farm in Zvornik, adding that “We are interested in finding a solution, but we need investor as well as support from the government.”

The focus of the workshop was the presentation of investment opportunities for biogas in the agriculture sector in BiH, and presentation of the experiences from other countries.

In spite of animal waste having a potential to further increase the income of both the farmers as well as investors, the situation in BiH is complicated. There is a discord between the legal regulations of this sector in entities. While quotas in RS are allocated till 2020, in FBiH, they are non-existing.

The first step is clear: there needs to be a research which will determine the real number of interested farmers, as well as the plant capacity. In order to have a decisive voice, farmers have to unite, regardless whether they have cows, pigs or chickens. It takes waste from 1,000 cows to have enough material to run a 1,000 kW biogas plant. The priority now is introduction of quotas in FBiH, since the first estimate is that there is an interest for 1 MW plants. Authorities need to introduce quotas in FBiH, or increase existing quotas in RS, but also increase the incentives, which will make the investment in this sector attractive. Financial institutions need to make investments no only available, but also affordable. Combined effort and demonstration of the intent will be a clear signal to investors that they will have a reliable partner and reliable material for their investments.