New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

  • bertam
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Examples of sanitation ventures producing and selling fertiliser products derived from human excreta

Hi all,

I'm currently doing some research on to identify the enabling conditions and barriers to commercialising fertiliser products derived from human excreta. I am planning to do this by developing several case studies in cities where sanitation ventures are trying to sell the fertilisers they produce by evaluating the challenges and opportunities that exist when it comes to commercialising fertilisers derived from excreta at a large scale.

At this stage I'm identifying potential case study locations. I was wondering if anyone would have suggestions of sanitation ventures or municipalities that successfully produce and sell compost or other fertilisers from excreta?

The ones I am aware of so far are:
Loowatt (UK/Madagascar)
SOIL (Haiti)
Sanergy (Kenya)
Safisana (Ghana)
X-Runner (Peru)

I don't have any geographical restrictions so any suggestions will be very welcome.

Thanks a lot in advance,
Berta
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  • muench
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Re: Examples of sanitation ventures producing and selling fertiliser products derived from human excreta

Hi Berta,

Sounds like an excellent research topic, although make sure you scour the literature (and SuSanA library) carefully as I have the suspicion that similar things have been done before. When you say "fertiliser projects derived from human excreta" does that also include fertiliser products from conventional wastewater (i.e. "biosolids", struvite), or are you specifically looking at the case of excreta collected without wastewater (which I would find more interesting)?

Have you looked through the threads posted here, where you will find some more examples:

forum.susana.org/forum/categories/98-res...sludge-or-wastewater

and this one:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/147-pr...eta-or-organic-waste

E.g. don't overlook the fertiliser product "black soldier fly larvae", which e.g. Sanergy and also eThekwini Municipality (South Africa) are looking into.

Please keep us updated on the progress of your research. Most likely, others will then also chime in and give you advice and tips.

Another thing I thought of: perhaps you'd like to look into the case of Scott Chen in China who is not selling the fertiliser (urine in this case) but the apples that he produces with the fertiliser. See e.g. here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/175-ur...-successful-business

(he's written on several places on the forum)

Actually this sub-category on urine reuse will also provide further cases for you:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/175-ur...euse-or-infiltration

Hope this helps a little bit.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • bertam
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Re: Examples of sanitation ventures producing and selling fertiliser products derived from human excreta

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you very much for your response and for your suggestions. I knew of the work carried out in Ghana by the IWMI in palletizing faecal sludge but I found some additional details and reports through the links you shared, thank you!

The literature available on the SuSanA library has been most valuable for finding relevant literature for my research. I have indeed found similar projects to mine but my focus is slightly different I think in that I would like to develop a comparative study between different projects where soil amendments derived from human excreta have been commercialised successfully, which is something I haven’t come across before. Seeing that experiences and results seem to vary quite a lot between projects I’d like to derive common or unique challenges faced and how they were overcome in each example and identify the enabling conditions contributing to the project’s success.


Ideally I would like to focus only on FS derived products applied directly to soil but I agree that BSF applications are very interesting and a very promising application for revenue generation from faecal sludge treatment.

Kind regards,
Berta
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  • KaiMikkel
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Re: Examples of sanitation ventures producing and selling fertiliser products derived from human excreta

Berta - I think that you'll find that securing examples that have "commercialized successfully" represents a high hurdle. There are plenty of organizations hard at work trying to realize this achievement but only a tiny percentage (if any) who actually have. From what I understand, most of these organizations, even those that have spun-off for-profit subsidiaries, depend on funds from donations/grants/etc. in addition to the revenue generated by providing their sanitation services and/or retailing the byproduct(s) in order to keep the doors open. But I am far from an expert in this area. What do others think?

Kai Mikkel Førlie

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  • AParker
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Re: New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

Pleased to announce the latest paper from Berta Moya:

Challenges to the use of fertilisers derived from human excreta: The case of vegetable exports from Kenya to Europe and influence of certification systems

Land degradation and inadequate faecal sludge management are two major issues in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The transformation of human excreta into soil amendments and their wide-scale adoption could improve soil health and contribute to solving the sanitation crisis in SSA. There are however perception challenges around these fertilisers because of the potentially harmful components they contain such as pathogens and heavy metals, which can be removed with appropriate treatment such as composting. A major barrier to the wide scale commercialisation of human excreta derived fertiliser (HEDF) is the unclear regulations surrounding their use. The aim of this study was to identify barriers to the use of HEDF by farmers participating in the horticultural export market with Kenya as focus area since horticultural exports are a major contributor to the country’s economy. Global GAP is the most widely adopted standard for quality assurance of horticultural crops and the use of human sewage sludge is currently not allowed on certified farms. Interviews with stakeholders along the food export chain highlighted the complex interactions that exist between them and showed that Global GAP certified farmers were not willing to use HEDF on their farms even if local regulations recognise treated sludge as a valid input to agriculture. Several countries (like the UK, Sweden, Australia and the USA) created specific certification or assurance schemes to improve public perception of biosolids. The creation of a similar assurance or certification scheme specific to fertilisers made from source-separated human excreta would be a step into formalising them as a product, establishing production procedures, limits on contaminants content as well as testing protocols. Such a certification scheme could increase the confidence of regulating bodies in HEDF and lead to their acceptance by global farming standards.

Free to download here

Thanks to Loowatt, Sanergy and NERC for funding.

Alison Parker
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  • muench
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Re: New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

Thanks for sharing, looks really interesting.
Two new abbreviations to learn:
Global GAP = Global Good Agricultural Practices
HEDF = human excreta derived fertiliser

I am not sure if HEDF will stick. Did you invent this term or did others before you use it? Do you see a significant difference between EDF and HEDF, i.e. excreta derived fertiliser, which could include excreta from animals versus human excreta derived fertiliser?

And would you like to include some statements from your paper in the Wikipedia article on reuse of excreta? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reuse_of_excreta

I have made sure it appears at least once by adding it as a citation for this sentence:

Regulatory considerations

Regulations such as Global Good Agricultural Practices may hinder export and import of agricultural products that have been grown with the application of human excreta-derived fertilisers.[55][56]


Wikipedia also has an article about Good Agricultural Practice but it is not very good ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_agricultural_practice ) - should we include there something about excreta derived fertilisers?

The advantages of including your paper as a reference in Wikipedia articles are that a) it improves the quality of the Wikipedia article and b) it may lead to more people reading your paper. So it's a win-win.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • AParker
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Re: New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

Thanks Elisabeth. Global GAP is already an organisation. HEDF we made up for the paper, I guess it's a subset of EDF!

Thanks for including the findings in thre relevant wikipedia pages! Happy if you want to add something to the GAP page, though I am not quite sure what since we're saying it's not included?

Alison Parker
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  • AParker
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Re: New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

We have another paper on a similar theme:

Realizing the Circular Economy for Sanitation: Assessing Enabling Conditions and Barriers to the Commercialization of Human Excreta Derived Fertilizer in Haiti and Kenya

Efficient fecal sludge management solutions are especially challenging in densely populated urban informal settlements, where space is limited and land tenure uncertain. One solution is to collect and treat human excreta to produce soil conditioners for use in agriculture, through container-based sanitation, thus realizing the circular economy for sanitation. This study focused on container based sanitation ventures that produce and sell fertilizers from human excreta. Stakeholder interviews showed that challenges faced by these ventures were similar: unclear regulations on the use of fertilizers derived from source-separated excreta, undeveloped markets for organic fertilizers, difficulties in securing secondary sources of organic matter for composting as well as complex transport and distribution logistics. The findings of this study emphasized the need for clear policies with respect to human excreta derived fertilizer, as well as institutional involvement in order to incentivize the sale and use of human excreta derived fertilizer locally to ensure that sustainable and safely managed sanitation systems are available in urban areas.

Free to download here

Alison Parker
www.nanomembranetoilet.org
Apply to study our MSc in Community Water and Sanitation:
www.cranfield.ac.uk/courses/masters/comm...-and-sanitation.html
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  • kimgerly
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Re: New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

DELIGHTED to see this paper!! I issued it a cursory review and search on the operative 'pathogen'. I was hoping for a more exhaustive, quantitative analysis on how pathogens were eradicated before humanure application to crops. In any event, I am looking forward to issuing it a more focused read this weekend.

out thinking the box | poo guru | hope & trimethylxanthine addict | solving spherical cow problems | fluid mechanics | heat transfer | communicating complex technical topics in basic terms that anyone can understand
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  • muench
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Re: New paper on the use of human excreta on crops exported from Kenya to Europe

Hi Alison,

With regards to the Wikipedia article on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) you wrote:

Happy if you want to add something to the GAP page, though I am not quite sure what since we're saying it's not included?


Well, that's exactly what we should be adding... The fact that it is not included is important, don't you think?

I've now added it here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_agricultural_practice#Soil

The use of sewage sludge is currently not allowed on GAP-certified farms of horticultural crops (though it is unclear whether this includes compost derived from sewage sludge and other human excreta derived fertilizers).[2]


Wikipedia editing is a slow iterative process. This article on GAP still needs a lot of work because it doesn't yet say much about the certification system. Hopefully other people with an interest in this will over time improve the article (I could do it too when I find the time, even though it is not my area of expertise).

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. To all: There was a presentation by Berta Moya at the FSM5 Conference in Cape Town in February 2019 if you are interested:
fsm5.susana.org/images/FSM_Conference_Ma...Berta-Moya_-FSM5.pdf
"Challenges to the Use of Human Excreta
Derived Fertilisers in Horticultural
Export Farms"
Conference website: fsm5.susana.org/en/downloads/conference-materials


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