The RUSTICA project continues its outreach in Valle del Cauca, Colombia, one of the 5 focal regions of this international project
Using a multisectoral approach, this initiative is moving forward in the formation of its multi-stakeholder platform, conceived as a collaborative space for co-creation and knowledge exchange in the regional context.
To this end, we count on the participation of agricultural producers, waste generators, fertilizer companies, government entities, and research centers interested to co-create and validate technological solutions and business models to convert agri-food waste into innovative, high-quality bio-based fertilizers that meet the needs of local small farmers and agribusiness. The RUSTICA project will thus contribute to the transition of the Valle del Cauca towards a circular and more climate-friendly rural economy.
During this first phase, the project has been presented to public and private universities, farmers associations, local and departmental governments, private fertilizer, and waste management companies. The response has been very positive.
Ongoing agri-food waste valorization initiatives in the region in relevant sectors have been identified, such as the sugar industry, where some sugar mills use the waste from sugar and ethanol production in composting plants and the product is applied to crops. The department’s central supply center also transforms fruit and vegetable waste in its own composting plant and is developing a pilot project for the valorization of this waste using the black soldier fly. Local universities are already investigating mainly in anaerobic digestion of local biomass residues.
The RUSTICA partners are also characterizing different feedstocks that could be valorized for the production of novel bio-based fertilizers. In Valle del Cauca, residues from the processing of major crops such as sugar cane, coffee, cocoa, and coconut were prioritized, as well as fruit and vegetable residues from supermarkets. Easily biodegradable residues such as coffee and cocoa mucilage, vinasse from ethanol production, and supermarket fruit and vegetable residues are being evaluated in the anaerobic digestion platform. More fibrous wastes such as coconut husks and cocoa shells are being tested for biochar production.
With its important agri-food sector, the presence of key research institutions, and the strong interests among different actors, the Valle del Cauca region has great potential for biobased innovations, which will be supported by the RUSTICA project. The role of each of the local stakeholders is key to support the region. Soon we hope to announce the first multi-actor workshop of the Valle del Cauca regional platform!