International exchange tour on the impact of biogas in Nicaragua


Following a successful, high level exchange tour which took place in Nicaragua July 24-27, participants have agreed to join forces and proposed to replicate a similar biogas programme in Honduras. The tour was organized by the government of Honduras and was attended by Civil Society Organizations, Schools and rancher guilds.

The objective of the exchange tour was to learn more about the uses, benefits and impact of biogas technology as demonstrated in the Biogas Programme Nicaragua (PBN), which is run by SNV with FOMIN, HIVOS and NDF funds.

Firsthand accounts from farmers and families using biogas, gave the attendees an insight into the impact the technology is having on the agriculture and health sectors. Also, attendees explored how biogas has reduced pollutant emissions.

It was found that access to energy has enabled over one thousand Nicaraguan families to reduce firewood consumption, decrease respiratory diseases, and improve the productivity of their farms through the incorporation of more eco-efficient production technologies.

Mr. Emmanuel Bejar, a Representative of SNV Central America said “In addition to the 1,100 Nicaraguan rancher families who have acquired bio digesters, biogas has directly benefited 6,000 people in rural areas. The installed systems have facilitated a reduction of 7,548 tons of CO2 emissions, as well as replacing 5,510 tons of firewood”.

The benefits of Biol

Rancher Juan Carlos Saenz, located in Chaguitillo, Sebaco, explained that now he is more competitive and productive and is saving more than $1,000 a year by using organic fertilizer, biol instead of chemical fertilizer. Biol is a byproduct of the biogas system he installed more than three years ago with the support of the Biogas Programme Nicaragua (PBN) for his papaya, pitahaya and citrus crops.

The 12 cubic meters biogas system produces 24 drums of organic fertilizer (biol) daily which he can apply to his crops. "Thanks to biol, my crops have not suffered from the drought like previous years as I am providing the soil and plants with rich nutrients," Saenz said while applying biol to his 7,500 pitahaya plants.

Health impacts

Likewise, the Soza Urbina Family, from the Compasagua community shared the positive health impacts they have experienced in the past three years. Previously, they cooked their food on wood stoves and estimated that they used about 900 wood slivers monthly. As a consequence, doctors have confirmed that the smoke from the stoves was responsible for the pneumonia that their children contracted at an early age, and for the respiratory illness that Maximina has suffered from for almost six months.

However, smoke is a thing of the past for this family now. Their lives have been transformed thanks to the installation of a biogas system.

Impact on productivity

For the last two years on the Los Corrales JF farm located in Matagalpa, no chemical fertilizers has been applied to its crops, only organic fertilizer, biol, which is provided by its biogas system.

Up to this point Mr. Alejandro Jiron, the owner of the farm use 800 pounds of chemical fertilizers for his coffee plot. Now he can apply for organic certification with Rainforest Alliance which will grant him a better price for his coffee.

With this system, he has greater productivity in addition to economic, environmental and health benefits. The biogas system provides him with 7.1 drums 20 liters) of biol daily, which is applied to coffee, Taiwan grass and citrus.