The Residue Recovery System™ is a single pass harvesting system, developed by farmers for farmers to unlock a viable renewables business (Image: Farmax/DalinYebo).


BOTHAVILLE, South Africa, March 10 (Reuters) – A big maize crop following recent rains has pulled South African maize prices to two-year lows, eroding farmers’ ability to pay for inputs for the new season, Grain SA said on Friday.

image ConnectingTheDots’ Insight: Earn extra revenue from maize cobs. They are an ideal feedstock for (furfural) biorefineries.

  • The harvesting, transporting and storage of maize cobs are well known (see GreenEneryPark biorefinery/agro-biomass processing hub). ….




  • Thompson Reuters, 10 March 2017
  • By Tanisha Heiberg, Editing by James Macharia/Ruth Pitchford


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Biobased Economy In South Africa is at its Infancy (Image: Carl Smorenburg).

When USDA released the first-ever Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry last year, we were thrilled to see what a positive impact this sector was having on our economy, and this updated analysis shows that the sector is not just holding strong, but growing.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at reports release this week in Washington, D.C.

A new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revealed the precise amount that the bio-based products industry contributed to the US economy and how many jobs it sustains.

Just how much are biobased products worth (to the US economy)?

Since we reported on the 2015 report, the biobased industry now contributes 4.2 million jobs and $393 billion to US economy. Each job in the US bioeconomy adds 1.76 jobs in adjacent sectors. In Africa, we can expect an even higher job creation rate (See: GreenEnergyPark™ biorefinery). reports:

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(Image Credit:  Xochiquetzal Fonseca/CIMMYT)

A new project that aims to provide farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa with stress-tolerant maize varieties has been launched to help the region boost food security. The Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project will apply conventional breeding techniques to develop maize varieties and hybrids capable of resisting environmental shocks, including drought, low soil fertility, heat, pests and diseases.

  • The project aims to increase maize productivity by 30-50 per cent
  • It will benefit 5.5 million smallholders in 12 African nations
  • An expert calls for more improved maize varieties to help more nations

Editor’s Note: Although the maize plants always makes a cob, even during drought, the good news is that STMA will create stable biomass supply chains (see Cob.Trade or Biomass.Market), as “Collecting Cobs Makes Good Business Sense.”

Twelve Sub-Sahara Africa countries — Benin, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe — will benefit from the project, which also seeks to enhance sustainable maize research and development systems in the focus countries.

The project also seeks to increase commercialisation of improved multiple stress-tolerant maize varieties with gender-preferred traits.”

Tsedeke Abate, CIMMYT

The STMA project to be run by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development. The four-year project (2016-2019) launched last month (March 21) is expected to increase maize productivity by 30-50 per cent and provide 5.5 million smallholder farmers with improved maize varieties.

The project follows the success of a drought-tolerant maize project that was implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa by CIMMYT and the IITA from 2007 to 2015. It helped improve food and income security of smallholder farmers by developing and disseminating more than 250 drought-tolerant, well-adapted maize varieties, says CIMMYT.  According to CIMMYT, more than 35 million hectares of cultivated maize in Sub-Saharan Africa rely on the rain, thus making environmental shocks such as drought have major impact on smallholders whose livelihoods depend on the crop.

Tsedeke Abate, the STMA project leader at CIMMYT, says the project seeks to provide innovative breeding tools and techniques applied for increasing the rate of genetic gain in the maize breeding pipeline. “The project also seeks to increase commercialisation of improved multiple stress-tolerant maize varieties with gender-preferred traits by the Sub-Saharan African seed sector and increase seed availability and farmer uptake of stress-tolerant maize varieties,” Abate tells SciDev.Net. According to Abate, the project will work with private and public seed companies and national agricultural research systems to facilitate uptake of the new technologies.

Rinn Self, a programme officer at the US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says maize production is increasingly threatened by climate change and worsening environmental conditions, including droughts, floods and poor soil. “The improved seeds in the hands of both smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, as well as small and medium enterprises, which produce, market and sell seeds and other inputs, play a critical part in the agricultural value chain,” Self notes.

Aboubacar Toure, programme officer, crop improvement and variety adoption at Kenya-headquartered Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), calls for incentives to help plant breeders develop new technologies and produce seed varieties that can adapt to climate change. Toure also urges African governments to scale up the improved technology so that many farmers can be reached with high-yielding cereal varieties.


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Farmer Bruce Nelson and a representative from biofuels company POET-DSM stand between square and round bales of corn stover stock piled outside of POET-DSM’s PROJECT LIBERTY cellulosic ethanol biorefinery. Selling the corn plant residue after their corn harvest has generated a new revenue stream for many farmers, including Bruce. Watch a video segment about Bruce’s story at the beginning of the film “Bioenergy: America’s Energy Future.”

In Africa we recommend to use the cobs, only or indigenous energy crops. We also have smaller biorefinery solutions, like the µ-Biorefinery or the GreenEnergyPark, which have the same economic outcome as in the USA: Additional income for the farmers.

The article below appeared on (US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy):

For the past seven years, All-American football player and Iowa farmer Bruce Nelson has been using corn stover—the non-edible corn stalks, husks, and leaves of a corn plant—to generate extra income at his family farm in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Nelson, his father, and his uncle are traditionally corn farmers; however, ever since biofuels company POET-DSM began preparations for its new cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg in 2007, their leftover corn stover has been an additional new cash crop.

As preparation for constructing the PROJECT LIBERTY biorefinery began, POET, which later became POET-DSM through a joint venture, began experimental collection of biomass from more than 300 local farmers in Emmetsburg, including Nelson and his family farm. Just as in the scale-up process for the biorefinery and fuel conversion process, testing the equipment on local farms near the biorefinery helped POET see what worked and what needed improvements to efficiently harvest and transport corn stover in preparation for the opening of their biorefinery. POET received $100 million in Energy Department cost-shared funding for construction of PROJECT LIBERTY. This biorefinery held its grand opening in September 2014 and is now in the preparation stage for full-scale commercial biofuel production.

After two seasons of testing the equipment, POET began purchasing harvests of corn stover from the local farmers. They stock piled corn stover bales at the biorefinery for future production as construction of the biorefinery continued. Nelson and his family profited by selling their corn stover to POET and also started up a custom stover harvesting business to help local farmers who did not have the sufficient labor or equipment to sell their corn stover. Nelson said it was a great benefit to his farm—it helped him “add revenue without adding acres.”

“We’ve been harvesting biostover in a renewable and a sustainable way. Now we have a second cash crop,” Bruce said. Watch a video segment for more about his story.

To date, Emmetsburg is home to one of only three commercial-scale biorefineries in the country that are preparing for full-scale production of cellulosic ethanol. The others are Abengoa’s Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Hugoton, Kansas (using corn stover), and INEOS Bio-New Planet Energy’s facility in Vero Beach, Florida (using vegetative waste including palm fronds). The Bioenergy Technologies Office helps to fund integrated biorefineries across the nation that are helping to scale up biofuel technologies. The construction of biorefineries and biofuel production also create temporary and permanent biorefinery jobs.

As the market for cellulosic ethanol develops, it can continue to drive job creation and new revenue streams for farmers such as Nelson and his family. The Bioenergy Technologies Office has helped to make this new revenue stream possible by funding research, development, and demonstration projects to drive down the cost of advanced biofuel such as cellulosic ethanol.

Helping local farmers turn corn stover into a cash crop—just one of EERE’s energy impacts.

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Image Source: USDA

Each job in the US bioeconomy adds 1.64 jobs in adjacent sectors.
An economic impact analysis of the US biobased products industry showed that in 2013 4 million jobs and US$369bn were added to US economy. In Africa, we can expect an even higher job creation rate (See: GreenEnergyPark™ biorefinery).
The following report was obtained from

A new report suggests the U.S. biobased products industry has a notable impact on the nation’s economy. It is the first research effort to quantify the effect of this industry from an economics and jobs perspective, according to U.S. Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack.

“Before, we could only speculate at the incredible economic impact of the biobased products industry. Now, we know that in 2013 alone, America’s biobased industry contributed four million jobs and $369 billion to our economy,” Vilsack said.

According to report, each job in the biobased products industry generates 1.64 jobs in other sectors of the economy. In 2013, 1.5 million jobs directly supported the production of biobased products, resulting in 1.1 million indirect jobs in related industries, and another 1.4 million induced jobs produced from the purchase of goods and services generated by the direct and indirect jobs.

The report presents detailed U.S. maps showing the impact of the industry on individual states. Seven case studies are also presented from stakeholders such as The Coca-Cola Company’s PlantBottle packaging, Patagonia’s biorubber neoprene alternative and Ford’s soy-based auto components.

The seven sectors analyzed in the report include agriculture and forestry, biorefining, biobased chemicals, enzymes, bioplastic packaging and textiles (the report does not include biobased fuels or other energy sources except when analyzing co-products). But these sectors alone are contributing to a significant reduction in the use of petroleum; the USDA estimates that the use of biobased products currently displaces about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year, equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.

In addition to the report, Secretary Vilsack also announced improvements to the 2014 Farm Bill that will create additional opportunities for growth in renewable plant-based materials, supporting the Obama Administration’s efforts to develop a new rural economy and promote creation of sustainable jobs. Updates to the Biorefinery Assistance Program enable biorefineries that receive funding (under the rule, up to $250 million for the construction and retrofitting of commercial sale biorefineries) to produce more renewable chemicals and other biobased products, instead of primarily producing advanced biofuels. In addition, biobased product manufacturing facilities would be eligible to convert renewable chemicals and other biobased outputs of biorefineries into “end-user” products. The new regulations also implement a streamlined application process.

These announcements build on the USDA’s recent report, “Why Biobased?,” which outlines opportunities for U.S. agriculture and forests in the emerging bioeconomy. The USDA’s BioPreferred® program granted the first BioPreferred labels to products in 2011, setting the standard for those products that are composed wholly or significantly of agricultural ingredients, including renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials.

An update to the BioPreferred program rules, also announced by Vilsack last week, no longer excludes mature market products — those that had a significant market share prior to 1972). This provides consumers with more innovative wood products and other materials carrying the BioPreferred label, according to the USDA.

June 23, 2015, by Brynn W. McNally,

Filed under: Reblogged Tagged: bio-renewable chemicals, bioplastics, biorefinery, green jobs, greenenergypark, micro-BioRefinery... image


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