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Better Practices Process for pig waste utilization in Western Leyte, Philippines

Agnes M. Taverosa , Elmer Abillarb, Richard Clarkc, Janice Timmsd and Simon J. Moree

a Leyte Livestock Improvement Project, ACIAR Office, Department of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Visayas State College of Agriculture, Baybay, 6521-ALeyte
b Leyte Livestock Improvement Program, ACIAR Office, Hindang, Leyte
c The Rural Extension Centre, PO Box 1000, Gatton, 4343, Australia
d Innovative Rural Management, Department of Primary Industries, GPO Box 46, Brisbane, Australia
e School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, PO Box 125, Kenmore 4069, Australia

Abstract

The Pig Waste Management Project, a component of a current bigger program, “Enhancing the contribution of livestock within smallholder mixed farming systems in the Philippines” locally known as the Leyte Livestock Improvement Program, was conceived to enable farmers to address issues and problems with respect to their pig waste management. This need was recognized in October 2000, six months after project implementation, when the results of the situation analysis at both project sites in Western Leyte (Hindang and Baybay) showed waste management as an important component in the pig production system of farmers. The situation analysis revealed that the importance of waste management stemmed from the pollution problems associated with pig production and the value of pig manure as organic fertilizer.

Using the tools and techniques in each step of the Better Practices Process, (Clark and Timms, 2001) of continuous improvement and innovation (CI & I), farmers were enabled to:

  • analyze issues, problems and opportunities associated with their current waste management practices (Step 1 - Situation Analysis);
  • develop a systems map which described the interconnection of components associated with their waste management (Step 1);
  • decide which area in their waste management system to focus on for action taking that would have a high impact (Steps 2 – 4; Impact Analysis, Action Planning and Action Taking);
  • assess whether the action implemented by them made a difference in their pig production system (Step 5 – Performance Assessment); and,
  • think of new opportunities for improving waste management based on issues that arose from the action taken (Step 6 – Creation and Synthesis).

Based on specific outputs and outcomes achieved by the first farmer team, the Pig Waste Management Project was also able to plan and design its activities for the next six months to support farmers in the second cycle of continuous improvement and innovation.

Introduction

The Pig Waste Management Project (PWMP) is part of a current ACIAR-funded program “Enhancing the contribution of livestock within a smallholder mixed farming systems in the Philippines”, locally known as Leyte Livestock Improvement Program” (LLIP). The LLIP seeks to support smallholder farmers to improve the management, profitability and long-term sustainability of their pig and chicken systems through continuous improvement in their creativity, decisions, processes, practices and performance. This project is based on the application of the Better Practices Process (BPP) of Continuous Improvement and Innovation (CI & I), which unlike the traditional approach to problem-solving, enables farmers to seek improvements in their current practices that they believe will make a real difference in their pig production system. The BPP is a six-step cyclic process comprised of: Step 1 – Situation analysis; Step 2 – Impact Analysis; Step 3 – Action Designing; Step 4 – Action Implementation; Step 5 – Performance Assessment; and Step 6 – Creation and Synthesis.

The situation analysis at both sites showed good waste management as one of the critical success factors identified by farmers to enable them to continuously improve their pig production system. This need identified by farmers was the premise for the derivation of the Pig Waste Management Project. The observations of farmers on their current waste management practices are in fact the reasons why many environmentalists consider pig production as a non-viable venture.

Using the thinking generated by the farmers during the Situation Analysis (Step 1 of the BPP) as basis, a broad activity plan was developed by the PWMP. The purpose of which was to provide technical and other support to enable farmers who focused on improving their current waste management through the six-step CI and I process. Like the other supportive projects of the LLIP, the work of the PWMP is being conducted within the six farmer groups that were formed at the start of the project in two municipalities in Western Leyte, Philippines namely, Baybay and Hindang.

The purpose of this paper is to describe:

  • how the Better Practices Process has facilitated continuous improvement and innovation in farmers’ waste management;
  • the improvements in creativity, decision-making, practices and performance of farmers through the Better Practices Process; and,
  • improvements in the decisions and performance of the Pig Waste Management Project through the application of the Better Practices Process.

Processes

The Pig Waste Management Project took off six months after program start with a farmer team who identified waste management as focus of their pig production system and followed these farmers through the steps of the CI and I process. Below is a brief description of the tools and techniques used in each step of the Better Practices Process that enabled farmers and project team members in coordination with the Education and Training Project and Facilitation Teams to identify activities that would assist the former to improve their current waste management practices.

Step 1 – Situation Analysis

Systems Mapping

This technique enabled farmers to identify elements of their waste management system and the interconnections among the elements. Likewise, farmers were able to identify some issues associated with the waste management systems map that they developed.

Specialist Questioning

This followed the activity on systems mapping. In here, the project team enabled farmers to address each of the issues associated with the systems map by asking farmers questions about the systems map that they developed such that farmers were stimulated to think of questions, ideas and opportunities for improving their current waste management practices.

Because of the specialist questioning technique, farmers’ understanding of the benefits of waste management and the implication of no waste management was improved. Further, the project team and farmers were able to develop a list of opportunities for action and improvement.

Step 2 – Impact Analysis

Impact and Influence Technique

The opportunities for action and improvement generated from Step 1 were analysed by the farmers themselves. In this technique, each opportunity is assessed for two criteria namely: the impact for implementing the opportunity on waste management and the personal influence that the farmer has in ensuring that the opportunity is implemented.

Using the criteria developed by farmers and project team for both impact and influence, individual farmers were able to assess each opportunity and plot his scores on an Impact and Influence Graph (Figure 1). This enabled each farmer to focus on the opportunities that fell in the top right-hand quadrant of the graph which were actually the ones that the farmers felt will have a high impact and they had high personal influence over.

Figure 1. The Impact and Influence Framework to enable individuals and groups to focus on those opportunities that will have the biggest impact and those which they can influence.

Step 3 – Action Designing

The Critical Success Factors Framework

Based on the results of the Impact and Influence Analysis, farmers formulated individual action design that focussed on the opportunity, which they believed they could take forward to action. Visit to individual farmers was done by the project team to assist farmers in action designing using the CSFs/KPs/KPIs Framework (Figure 2). An important role of the project team in this step is to remind farmers that key practices should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-framed (SMART).

Figure 2. A framework for designing action for impact on performance.

Focus

Critical Success Factors (CSFs)

Key Practices (KPs)

Key Performance Indicator (KPIs)

1.

   

2.

   

3.

   

4. etc

   

CSFs = Critical Success Factors – What makes a Difference?

KPs = Key Practices – First steps to take?

KPIs = Key Performance Indicators – How will I know?

Step 4 – Action Implementation

Key Practices (CSFs/KPs/KPIs Framework)

The key practices identified by individual farmers in the CSFs/KPs/KPIs Framework directed the activities of both farmers and project team. These were the ones particularly implemented by farmers into their current waste management practices. In this step, technical assistance not only from the project team but also from external specialists was one of the essential inputs. More importantly, action implementation relied chiefly on the commitment of the individual farmers who took the first important steps forward.

Step 5 – Performance Assessment

Key Performance Indicators (CSFs/KPs/KPIs Framework)

In here, the key performance indicators in the CSF/s/KPs/KPIs Framework served as basis for enabling farmers to assess the impact of the key practices (KPs) implemented on Critical Success Factors (CSFs). Performance assessment of the action implemented was measured against expected outputs and outcomes (KPIs).

Step 6 – Creation and Synthesis

Observations, Questions, Ideas and Opportunities Technique

With pig waste management as focus, observations, questions and ideas generated by farmers about the action taken by them were recorded by both farmers and project team in the appropriate column in the OQIO tool. The farmers then made a careful review of the OQI so that new opportunities for the second cycle of improvement and innovation were identified.

CI & I of the Waste Management Project Team

In regards to the CI & I of the project team, focuses, critical success factors and key practices are regularly monitored by team members to see to it that these are aligned towards the project mission of farmer capacity-building. During the six-monthly coordinating meeting, an action design is developed by the project team and shared with the entire program team who act as “critical friends” (Critical Friend Technique). As a result of this, a list of OQI&O for improvement and action is generated. The original action design is then evaluated by the project team in view of the list of OQI&O and improved by incorporating specific OQI&O as appropriate. The team action design is developed with the end in view of supporting farmers to address their needs, problems and issues that emerge from the actions implemented by them. More importantly, based on the principle of CI & I and the program mission, the team action design is developed in a way that avoids dole-out situations, rather enables farmers capacity-building.

Results

These are presented below in a way that the outputs associated with each step of the Better Practices Process are shown. The presentation however does not include the results of Step 5 in as much as the OQI&O (Step 6) generated by the waste management farmer team gives an idea of the performance assessment (Step 5) exercise.

Step 1 – Situation Analysis

Below is a summary of the current waste management practices common to all farmer groups:

  • Constructing pigpens near creeks or rivers to facilitate waste disposal.
  • Constructing canals usually from PVC pipes to convey waste from pig pens to rivers or creeks.
  • Daily collection of pig manure that is either a) stored in sacks b) dumped in an open hole constructed near the pig pen or c) sun-dried, bagged and used later as fertilizer for crops.
  • Constructing septic tanks.

In regards to systems mapping, the following elements were identified by farmers and the interconnections outlined (represented by Z):

The thinking generated by farmers from the systems map they developed and after the specialist questioning is shown below:

  • Maximize benefits and minimize cost of waste management
  • Feed quality and quantity are not an important issue because practically none is wasted
  • Drainage system although important is difficult to address because type of system to put in place was not considered before construction of pig pens
  • Number of animals is important in that it directly determines the amount of waste available and indirectly, the system that can be put in place.
  • The presence of neighbors forces pig raiser to improve quality of waste management
  • The more benefits derived from the waste management system, the better.
  • Cost of system to put in place is an important factor.

As a result of the specialist questioning, the farmers and project team were able to come up with a list of possible options for improved waste management:

  • Biodigester
  • Septic tank
  • Burning manure as fuel (after drying)
  • Composting
  • Dry manure and apply directly to crops
  • Storing manure in bags and use later or sell
  • Feed pig waste to fish

Step 2 – Impact Analysis

Before the actual impact and influence analysis, the project team as well as the waste management farmer team identified benefits including the tangible (fertilizer, fuel, increased income from livestock, knowledge) and intangible benefits (reduction of odor, pollution control, neighbors seeing pig waste can be a resource, improved esteem as pig raiser) as basis for the option’s impact and cost of and area required for option, to assess farmer’s influence over option.

Step 3 – Action Designing

Using the information in the situation analysis and impact analysis, each farmer then made an action design. This was done in the presence of the research assistant of the project team who made individual visits to farmers. Below is the action design of Anacorita Lipardo, a farmer in Hindang:

Focus: Pig waste management through a low-cost biodigester

Critical Success Factors (CSFs)

Key Practices (KPs)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Technical assistance for a low-cost biodigester

Coordinate with LLIP

Requirements for the biodigester unit known

Schedule of biodigester construction arranged with expert

Materials required for biodigester

Save enough money to buy necessary materials

Materials for low-cost biodigester secured

Biodigester in place

Step 4 – Action Implementation

Of the three high impact and high influence opportunities for action and improvement selected by each of the LLIP farmers at both program sites, 16 farmers had good waste management as one of their focuses. Within this group, 12 farmers chose the biodigester technology as the high impact, high influence option for waste management while the other 4 chose collecting pig manure, drying and storing for later use as their option.

Of the twelve biodigester technology option farmers, four have successfully implemented their action design for a low-cost biodigester (Tubular Polyethylene Digester [TPED] model). The first unit was set-up under the direct supervision of Dr. Thomas Reg Preston, a TPED model expert based at Cambodia, who was requested to support the Pig Waste Management Project in this particular issue. Another farmer within this option indicated his desire for a “long-lasting” model. To this end, the project team coordinated with an external expert in concrete biodigester who served as the specialist during the Specialist Questioning Technique with the project team leader. A copy of the layout of the concrete model and the bill of materials were provided the farmer who after 3 weeks decided on this model. The schedule for the activity is set on the third or fourth week of June 2001. The rest of the farmers within the same option even now have coordinated with the project team regarding the schedule for the activity. In regards to the four farmers who decided on the other option, they are now implementing their action design as their current waste management practices.

Step 6 – Creation and Synthesis

The table below shows the summary of the thinking generated by the first waste management farmer team about the improvements they made in their waste management practices.

Table 1. OQI&O about the TPED

Observations

Questions

Ideas

Opportunities

  • It is beneficial though the burning doesn’t last longer than one hour
  • Our LPG now lasts two months
  • Gas production is efficient
  • The odor of the material from the outlet is less offensive than fresh pig manure
  • Our neighbors are no longer complaining about the odor from our pigpen
  • What shall we do in order to sustain gas production?
  • Can we visit other pig farmers with biodigester?
  • Can LLIP design a better burner?
  • How is the effluent used?
  • What is the appropriate design if the place is not enough for the TPED model?
  • Is the effluent the same as organic fertilizer?
  • How many pigs are needed in order to produce enough cooking gas for the family?
  • Will the reservoir explode?
  • Why is the reservoir empty?
  • Continuous charging of biodigester with pig waste
  • Collect pig waste from neighbors
  • Design an appropriate burner
  • Use another reservoir to increase gas storage
  • It is better for LLIP to provide other options for waste management
  • Waste from digester is better than pure pig waste
  • LLIP to provide other biodigester designs
  • Use effluent as fertilizer for crops
  • Produce electricity from pig waste
  • Plant more crops and use effluent as fertilizer
  • Raise more pigs

The thinking above is now the focus of the action design of the project team. An external soil scientist has been tapped to address issues related to the biodigester effluent. Likewise, the project team is trying to develop pictorial posters to illustrate the flow of TPED construction to enable the first farmer team to understand every aspect of the TPED and support farmers on the issue of maintenance and repair of existing TPED.

Conclusion

A very outstanding feature of the Better Practices Process is that it focuses on the farmer: his current needs, problems and potentials. Corollary to this, the specialist then becomes aware of his needs (technology, resources, etc) to enable him to respond appropriately to the farmer. In responding to farmer needs, an important role of the specialist is providing farmers with a “basket of opportunities” rather with one-off solutions. In our experience over the past six months, the choice or choices of farmers could include activities not necessarily the predisposition of the specialist. As an example, the issue on biodigester effluent effect on crops saw the need for inputs from a soil scientist who is now engaged in the project on a short term. The BPP therefore enables stakeholders to realize that there is a range of situations affecting productivity that needs to be approached from several perspectives.

With the pig waste management project, it is now evident that engaging farmers starting from the situation analysis exercise and supporting them through each step of the Better Practices Process were key to achieving what now seems to be a farmer-managed sustainable pig waste management. Likewise and equally important was the project team’s commitment to practice continuous improvement. Whether this means evolving from the technology transfer paradigm to more innovative participatory strategies like the BPP, is a matter that policy-makers, researchers and extension workers have to consider seriously to finally achieve what we have hoped to achieve for many years now.

References

  1. Clark, R. and J. Timms. 2001. The Better Practices Process Focussed Action for Impact on Performance. The Rural Extension Centre. Gatton, Australia.

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