COA touts circular economy-based agriculture businesses

10/06/2020 09:31 PM
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Photo courtesy of the COA
Photo courtesy of the COA

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) The Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) launched an exhibition on Tuesday that features 76 circular economy-related agriculture R&D results, some of which have already been transformed into profitable products.

The show will be held at 18 different locations across Taiwan this month as part of governmental efforts to promote agricultural products that boost the circular economy.

At a press conference for the event, Livestock Research Institute Director Huang Jeng-fang (黃振芳) said the 76 research programs reduced carbon emissions by 92,000 metric tons, equivalent to the reduction in carbon achieved by 300 Da'an Forest Parks in Taipei.

He also said the research projects have received more than NT$800 million in funds for relevant investment projects, expressing hope that the cross-island exhibition will "inspire people to come up with more new industrial operation modes."

Mushrooms grown in substrate bags. CNA file photo
Mushrooms grown in substrate bags. CNA file photo

One of the biggest investments is one that transforms waste sawdust substrate bags used to grow mushrooms into biofuel, Cheng Mei-ping (程梅萍), chief secretary at the Livestock Research Institute under the COA, told CNA via telephone.

A Yunlin-based green energy producer then uses the biofuel to generate steam for factories, Cheng said.

As a result, the company earned an annual profit of NT$190 million in the year after it launched the business in July 2019.

Other agricultural waste also has business potential. One example is straw, which can be used to replace the non-environmentally friendly packaging material of styrofoam, she said.

According to Huang, as with oyster shells, waste mushroom cultivating bags can also be used to produce cat litter or deodorant pads for livestock and poultry farms.

COA deputy chief Chen Junne-jih (陳駿季) said the government began efforts in 2017 to promote industrial innovation based on recycling agricultural resources.

Currently, there have been 76 research projects in areas ranging from waste mushroom bags to the treatment of livestock and poultry excrement.

About 4.8 million metric tons of agricultural waste is produced nationwide every year, Chen said, and the research has made use of 1 million metric tons of that. "It is important to reduce waste from these sources," he added.

(By Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)

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