Cambodia: Cassava Waste Management

Cassava waste management

Cassava processing in Cambodia generates significant waste, including solid and liquid forms, raising environmental and health concerns. Solid waste, mainly originating from cassava chip processing, holds potential for use in crop and animal production when appropriately managed. Conversely, liquid waste poses a risk of groundwater, lake, river, and stream pollution. These waste byproducts frequently release unpleasant odors, creating an inhospitable environment for neighboring farming communities. Consequently, caution is urged when using water from these areas for drinking or cooking. While many cassava processing plants have established waste management systems, they often fall short of meeting technical specifications. This results in the production of strong, unpleasant odors and vulnerability to flooding during the rainy season, leading to uncontrolled discharges into nearby water sources.

Innovation/Modern technology

Cassava processing factories in Cambodia employ diverse technologies and heating sources, leading to varying waste types and quantities. Heating systems using rice husk, black oil, or firewood produce distinct waste, including ashes, oil spillage, and smoke, all contributing to an unpleasant odor. Cassava chip processing adds to the waste issue with dust pollution, solid waste (peel, root debris, cassava flour), and unpleasant odors. Roughly 20 kg of waste results from processing one ton of fresh cassava root.

The National Biodigester Programme (NBP), initiated by Cambodia's Royal Government in 2006 with the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), promotes domestic biodigesters for agricultural and animal waste management. Over 28,000 biodigesters have been installed, offering economic, health, environmental, and social advantages. Economically, domestic biogas reduces fuel expenses, saves time, boosts soil productivity via bio-slurry, and lowers healthcare costs. It also fuels local employment and private sector growth. Health-wise, it diminishes smoke-related illnesses and improves sanitation while reducing fire-related accidents. Environmentally, it aids forest conservation, cuts greenhouse gas emissions (especially methane), and prevents land fertility degradation. It also eliminates odors from pig dung storage and reduces water pollution from pig dung disposal.

Moreover, Cambodia's cassava industry holds potential for ethanol production, drawing investments from domestic and international companies. Cassava-based biofuels aim to reduce fossil fuel dependency and generate rural income.

Government Initiatives

The Cambodian government has implemented policies to promote the development of the cassava sector, focusing on sustainable production and competitive access to global markets.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis of biogas technology in Cambodia identifies strengths such as favorable soil conditions and expansion potential. Weaknesses include limited resources, coordination issues, and technical expertise gaps. Opportunities involve improving farmer access to credit, supporting sustainable cassava production, and creating eco-friendly cassava products. Threats consist of limited government involvement, inadequate research resources, and technology transfer difficulties.

To advance Cambodia's biogas sector, essential measures include introducing new waste management technologies, raising stakeholder awareness, enhancing knowledge and skills, increasing financial resources, and establishing supportive policies.

In summary, Cambodia's cassava processing generates significant waste, posing environmental and health risks. Domestic biogas production offers various benefits. To nurture this sector, awareness, knowledge dissemination, financial support, and policy backing are crucial for its sustainability and that of the cassava industry.