A new technology that has arrived in rural villages in El Salvador makes it possible for small farming families to generate biogas with their feces and use it for cooking - something that at first sounded to them like science fiction and also a bit smelly.
The city of Franca is an example of basic sanitation in Brazil. In addition to providing universal treated water and sewage to its 352,500 inhabitants, it extracts biogas from wastewater and refines it to fuel its own vehicles.
"The biodigester really gives a huge boost to those who have the courage to do things," said Maria das Dores Alves da Silva, based on her own experience as a 63-year-old small farmer.
The first five biomethane-fuelled buses in the Cuban municipality of Martí will not only be a milestone in the country but will also represent a solution to the serious problem of transportation, while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and bolstering local development.
Standing in front of a blue flame on her stove, getting ready to brew coffee, Mayra Rojas says the biodigester built in the backyard of her home in western Cuba has become a key part of her daily life and a pillar of her family's well-being.
Three giant concrete cylinders with inflated membrane roofs are a strange sight in the industrial park of Zárate, a world of factories 90 kilometers from Buenos Aires that heavy trucks drive in and out of all day long. They are the heart of a plant that is about to start producing energy from agro-industrial waste, for the first time in Argentina.
Yunia Cancio cooked with firewood until a few years ago, when a biodigester was built on her family’s El Renacer farm in Cabaiguán, a municipality in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spíritus, under the Biomass Cuba project. That change meant a lot for her family’s quality of life, but it was not the only one.
"Until five years ago, we didn't know about the circular economy, but today our waste generates environmentally neutral products that also offer a return,” says José Luis Barrinat, manager of a cooperative that brings together some 550 small farmers in Monje, Argentina.
"Biogas is worth gold to us, we can no longer live without it," Claudete Volkswey, a poultry farmer in the municipality of Toledo, in the southwestern state of Paraná, Brazil, said enthusiastically about the new source of energy that has allowed her to get a good night’s sleep again, because she no longer has to get up to stoke the fire every two hours.
Most beginnings are rocky and sometimes the obstacles seem insurmountable, before they are finally overcome. This was certainly the case for the Finca Marta, a farm in Cuba that had to begin by digging a well in search of water and with the hard-scrabble work of clearing an arid, stony and overgrown plot of land.
The state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil is the largest national producer and exporter of pork and this year it also leads in exports of chicken, of which it is the second-biggest producer in the country.
Pigs, already the main source of income in this small municipality in southwestern Brazil, now have even more value as a source of electricity.