Potential to turn agricultural by-products into renewable raw materials
With about 160 million tons of agricultural by-products per year, if all can be turned into a renewable resource, it will not only bring economic benefits but also to the agricultural environment.
According to statistics, the total volume of agricultural by-products in 2020 of the whole country is over 156.8 million tons, including:
- 88.9 million tons of post-harvest by-products from crops and the processing of agricultural products of the crop industry (accounting for 56.7%);
- 61.4 million tons of cattle and poultry manure from the livestock industry (accounting for 39.1%);
- 5.5 million tons from forestry sector (accounting for 3.5%);
- and about 1 million tons from the fishery industry (accounting for 10.6%).
However, at present, the percentage of crop by-products (peanut shells, corn stalks, rice straw, cassava stalks, soybean husks, firewood…) that are collected and used accounts for only 52.2%. In livestock production, only about 20% of manure is used effectively. Agricultural by-products, if well exploited, will become a high-value resource, bringing great benefits to businesses and farmers.
Speaking at the International Dialogue Workshop on “Agricultural By-products – Renewable Resources” recently organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Nguyen Hong Long, Director of Center for Creativity and Sustainability Study and Consultancy (CCS) shared that the country’s biomass potential is currently about 160 million tons; The economic potential is 60 million TOE (tons of oil equivalent), parallel to about $46.5 billion. This profit has the potential to create jobs for 180,000 people and benefit 13 million households and 900,000 food service businesses.
In addition, with the potential of the industrial market, at least 40 sub-sectors can apply thermal energy from biomass gasification technology. Replication is very high, not only in Vietnam but also in other developing countries.
In order to exploit these potentials, the project “Promotion of supply and demand of Eco-Fair Agri-food processing products in Vietnam” (Eco Fair Project) was born with the mission to change behavior of organizations and individuals in order to take positive measures on society and improve the environment. This is a project co-funded by the European Union of EUR 1.5 million through the SWITCH-Asia Program, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology – Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and organizational partners.
PhD. Nguyen Bao Thoa, Director of the Vietnam Rural Industries Research and Development Institute (VIRI), said that through project activities such as: Raising awareness and capacity of the business community and consumers, Developing codes of conduct on sustainable production and consumption in the industry, Supporting businesses to develop products towards circular production… Eco Fair will contribute to utilizing agricultural by-products to create valuable products.
Towards the circular economy
Agriculture is one of the main causes of climate change as greenhouse gas emissions from this sector account for 18% of total emissions. It is expected that the CO2 emissions of the agricultural sector will reach 120 million tons by 2030. At COP26, Vietnam made a strong commitment to achieve net emissions of “zero” by 2050, reducing metal emissions 30% by 2030. This is not a small challenge for Vietnam’s agricultural industry.
According to PhD. Nguyen Huu Ninh, Deputy Director of the Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, from the perspective of a circular agricultural economy associated with green growth, by-products in agriculture, forestry and fishery must be considered as renewable resources. This source of raw materials should be considered as an important input, extending the value added chain in agriculture.
Sharing the same view, Associate Professor, Dr. Bui Ba Bong, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that in order to promote the processing and increase the value of agricultural by-products, support policies should be changed according to the circular value chain. For example, from a policy that only supports the construction of biogas digesters, to a policy that supports and encourages the application of a value chain, multi-function: biogas cellar – sedimentation tank – manure separator – manure/organic production – electricity generation. Focus on implementing circular agriculture right at farmer households, small farms, cooperatives…
Besides, according to experts, it is necessary to renew the effectiveness and efficiency of the system of investment mechanisms and policies to encourage enterprises to participate. Specifically: Create a clean ground; Reduce corporate income tax, Import tax on equipment, etc.
In addition, encourage the application of circular agricultural production processes; Promote propaganda on the significance of agricultural by-products in the circular agricultural economy, green growth to raise awareness of people and businesses; Promote the application of high technology and clean technology in processing agricultural by-products…
Ngô San (Vietnam Business Forum)