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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is moving to assist local pig farmers in generating bio-energy from their operations, which could boost their income and benefit the renewable energy sector.

FAO Sub-Regional Livestock Development Officer for the Caribbean, Dr. Cedric Lazarus, said the organisation is making arrangements to facilitate a visit to Jamaica by German bio-energy expert Professor Jens Born in early 2013, for dialogue with officials in the Ministry, and stakeholders in the pig sub-sector.

Dr. Lazarus, who was addressing the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association's (JPFA) recent Annual General Meeting at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester, said the move go a far way in reducing the farmers’ operational overheads, while generating additional income for them, through sale of energy to the national power grid, among other possible benefits.

Professor Born’s impressive credentials include his engagement in applied research in: innovative bio-gas technology; application of bio-gas technology in waste management on farms; wastewater technology and nutrients recycling in agriculture; bio-refinery concept(s) in the food industry; and green process engineering.

He has already lent his expertise to the Barbadian industry conducting a review of farm waste management applications and offering practical recommendations for the conversion of pig waste to bio-energy, during a visit to the country in July.

"He visited approximately 20 pig farmers to assess waste management practices on their farms and options for use of pig manure to produce, not only bio-gas, but fertilizer and electricity," Dr. Lazarus informed.

He said that during discussions with the Barbadian stakeholders, Professor Born pointed out that in a number of countries, bio-gas and renewable energy technology application on small and medium size livestock farms is, currently, far advanced compared to what existed, upwards of a decade ago.

"He is of the opinion that with the rising price of livestock feed and energy, Caribbean pig farmers should investigate improving on-farm efficiencies and finding additional sources of income from their farm enterprises. One such additional source of income is (the conversion of) pig waste (to bio-energy)," the FAO Officer stated.

Dr. Lazarus said Professor Born informed that northern Germany, particularly Flensburg, where he hails from, is renowned for its pig industry, and that farmers there earn significantly more income from selling bio-energy to the power grid, than from pork sales to the processing plants., while contending that "it obviously takes investment…it takes planning… it takes good government policy to put all that in place".

 Professor Born is scheduled to conduct a series of lectures on bio-energy at the University of West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados in February 2013.