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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on dung and biogas

This story is a good example of a project which has benefits for both farmers and the global environment. Farmers benefit by getting access to cheap energy, which leaves them more money for education and other goods and services. They also make good quality fertilizer as a by-product. The environment benefits because methane is not released into the atmosphere from decomposing manure.

For more general and technical information on biogas, see these reports and websites:

“Biogas, a Technical Brief by Practical Action. Downloadable at http://practicalaction.org/biogas

Supergas website: http://www.supergas.info/

African Biogas Partnership Programme: http://africabiogas.org/knowledge-center/

Here are two recent new reports on cow dung and biogas in Senegal and in Uganda:

-“Cow Dung Generates Energy for Households in Senegal”: http://www.africagoodnews.com/infrastructure/energy/2735-cow-dung-generates-energy-for-households-in-senegal.html

-“Bio Gas Brought a New Dawn in Mugisha’s Life”: http://allafrica.com/stories/201108040446.html

You may also wish to revisit some stories from the Farm Radio Weekly series on energy in June 2011. Here is one story on biogas from that series:

Rwanda: Powering homes with cow dung (FRW 160, June 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/20/rwanda-powering-homes-with-cow-dung-alertnet/

Farm Radio International has produced many scripts on climate change, and on livestock farming. You can browse these scripts at http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/climate.asp and http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/livestock.asp

The following script talks about a method for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in livestock farming:

Breeding cows in a zero-grazing system can be a dual environmental solution (Package 89, Script 5, December 2009) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/89-5script_en.asp

This story touches on several issues: the livelihood of livestock farmers, ways to decrease or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and sources of renewable energy.

Biogas is one form of renewable energy. Others include solar energy, energy from moving water (electricity from small or large dams, for example), and biofuels made from plants like jatropha.

You could ask farmers in their area where they get their energy for cooking, lighting, and other uses, including charging mobile phones.

Do they use any renewable resources such as the ones mentioned above? Many farmers use only wood or charcoal for household energy. Unless carefully stewarded, this results in deforestation.

Are there individuals, businesses, schools, or other institutions in nearby villages or towns that use solar energy? Talk to farmers, merchants, local business leaders, and local NGOs.

What do farmers in your listening area do with their animal manure? Is it used for fertilizer? Do they compost the manure, or is it simply left in place or carried to the fields? Are there biodigesters in your listening area? If so, interview the people who own and/or use the biodigester and get their story. How did the biodigester project start? What benefits do they expect and have their received from the biodigester? How is it working? How was the initial investment covered?

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