If all the poultry manure and litter produced in Bangladesh was composted, it would have significantly reduced emission of greenhouse gases
One of the largest companies in the poultry and poultry feed industry in Bangladesh, Kazi Farms Group has been doing business since 1996. Its product range consists of day-old broiler and layer chicks, commercial eggs, poultry feed, fish feed, live broiler chickens, and organic fertilizer.
One of the ways the organization has been contributing towards reduction of carbon emission, says its director Kazi Zahin Hasan, is through a massive day-old chick production within the country.
When Kazi Farms started its chicken breeding business 20 years ago, almost all the day-old chicks which had been purchased by farmers in Bangladesh were produced from hatching eggs, imported from India and Thailand by air.
As Kazi Farms grew bigger, it began to supply a large amount of day-old chicks, fulfilling an increasing demand. Currently it produces over three million day-old chicks every week.
“The hatching eggs are produced by our own breeding farms in Bangladesh. If not for our breeding operations, Bangladesh would still be importing huge numbers of hatching eggs by air. Air transport of perishable cargo produces very large carbon emissions. So our industry, the poultry breeding industry, has already made a big contribution to carbon emission reduction,” said Kazi Zahin Hasan.
Internally, within the organization, it is striving to be more energy efficient to mitigate wastage.
“In every one of our industrial facilities we are trying to reduce wastage of energy by using more energy efficient lights,” Hasan said.
While energy efficiency needs to be a part of any clean production, the bigger challenge for the poultry industry is to reduce its greenhouse gas emission. Kazi Farms works towards this by producing organic fertilizer, said agricultural scientist Abu Taher, who is Senior Manager for organic fertilizer sales at Kazi Farms.
Kazi Farms produces organic fertilizer by aerobically composting poultry manure at its plants. The process involves agitating and aerating the manure so that it decomposes aerobically, and produces less greenhouse gases.
The traditional use of poultry manure is to store it in a heap for a few months, then to apply it to a crop field. The traditional method uses anaerobic decomposition of the manure, which produces more greenhouse gases.
“We are also setting up solar panels at many of our farms. This will hopefully reduce our energy consumption from the grid. Energy supplied to the grid in Bangladesh is mostly from fossil fuels, so reducing energy consumption means reducing carbon emissions,” said Taher.
Hasan says that Kazi Farms’ approach towards clean production and mitigation is in congruence with the standard practices internationally. But production of biogas from chicken manure is one measure that remains unattainable.
Sample collection for moisture analysis Courtesy
“Large biogas plants are very difficult to run on our farms. We did set up some large biogas plants, but found that we were unable to run them,” Hasan said.
“If you want to put 10 tonnes of manure into a biogas plant every day, you first have to mix it with 10 tonnes of water. If 20 tonnes of manure plus water goes into the plant, 20 tonnes of digested slurry will come out. That means you started with 10 tonnes of chicken manure, but you increased the volume of the waste to 20 tonnes.”
What this means in terms of logistics and setup, is that a manufacturer will need to have a huge pond which can accept 20 tonnes of slurry every day. It is also necessary to be able to separate the water from the solids to recycle the water. The solids need to be sun-dried, which can be sold as fertilizer.
“But all these activities require land, and almost no poultry farm in Bangladesh has enough land to do all this,” said Hasan.
“In Bangladesh the appropriate waste management system for poultry manure is to compost to convert it into organic fertilizer. Composting reduces the volume of the waste and converts it into sellable organic fertilizer.”
By doing so, Kazi Farms is making a big difference, says Hasan. “Lots of farmers are using our organic fertilizer. That means they are using less chemical fertilizer. Production of chemical fertilizer causes huge carbon emissions. So, replacing chemical fertilizers with organic fertilizers actually reduces carbon emissions.”
At the same time, organic fertilizers increase the water retention of the soil. Farmers who use organic fertilizers find that they require less irrigation, which is mostly done using diesel powered pumps. So, reducing the need for irrigation also reduces carbon emissions from crop agriculture.
But Kazi Farms could do so much more with bigger composting capacity. Currently, it sells most of the manure and litter produced at its farms. Hasan hopes that Kazi Farms will eventually gain the capacity to compost all of the manure and litter produced by its farms into organic fertilizer.
“Most of the poultry manure and litter produced in Bangladesh is not composted. If it was composted and used as organic fertilizer, it would have significantly reduced the demand for chemical fertilizers. Producing chemical fertilizers is an energy intensive process which produces a lot of carbon emissions,” he said.
Saqib Sarker is journalist at Dhaka Tribune.