A glimpse into circular economy opportunities within the agriculture industry


A glimpse into circular economy opportunities within the agriculture industry

Hello readers,

Welcome to #CircularTuesday on CleanbuildVoices!

As you may already know, there’s a lot of ongoing conversations around circular economy and how various industry can tap into the economic opportunities it presents.

The World Bank has it that current food systems threaten the health of people and the planet. Even worse, food production generates unsustainable levels of pollution waste.

It’s ironic that one-third of food produced globally is lost or wasted yet according to one report, as many as 11 people are likely dying of hunger and malnutrition every minute. This is more than the current global death rate of COVID-19, which is around seven people per minute.

In this week’s edition, we’ll visit the agriculture industry to unearth how the industry can- at every level of production- apply circular economy best practices to address the issues of food insecurity.

A circular economy (CE) is one that is able to regenerate itself. This means that what is thrown away in the environment is actually reused, recycled, and valued and the process continues in an endless cycle.

One of the strongest points for the circular economy is that it does not only prevent waste, it goes a step further to create new value out of so-called waste. In the field of agriculture, greater sustainability can be had just by keeping more resources and materials in use for as long as possible.

Within the agricultural space, the circular economy approach can help to achieve greater sustainability simply by keeping more resources and materials in use for as long as possible.

We’ve identified a number of opportunities players in the sector can leverage to minimize cost and maximize resources.

Credit: fao.org

Re-using wastewater. Households, towns, cities, and agriculture produce a stream of water that has already been used either for domestic and agricultural purposes. Rather than discard such wastewater, it can be treated with its nutrient preserved to benefit plant production.

Recycling irrigation water. As every farmer can attest to, irrigation is very important to the farming process. Farmers can design return-flow systems where drainage and surplus irrigation are channeled back to the irrigation network, allowing them to store enough water in the advent of low rainfall.

Converting organic waste to fertilizer. Farming activities usually generate organic wastes like food waste, crop stalks and stems, leaves, and animal waste.

When managed and properly converted into biofertilizers, these wastes can add nutrients to promote plant growth, maintain soil fertility and sustainability. Even better, organic waste is a cost-effective and renewable source that can even replace inorganic fertilizers.

Recycling plastics. Farmers can pursue zero waste goals by reducing, reusing, and/or recycling empty pesticide and fertilizer containers.

No doubt, a healthy environment makes for a sustainable future. As more people within the agriculture industry take up circular farming practices, they can help to reduce poverty, improve food security and create new employment opportunities.

Watch this space, as we’ll be back for our Tuesday special next week.

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