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Establishment of a micro-biorefinery in a rural community: beneficiation of food waste into high value materials.

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Farmers are faced with great challenges such as ever rising costs of fertilizers, pesticides, natural disasters, climate change and many more factors that affect the quality and quantities of produce per season. Regardless of these challenges, food is desired with the ever-growing demand. The population growth also means the exponential increase of organic waste which is estimated to ten million tons annually in South Africa. This organic waste often ends up at landfills, whereas it has valuable nutrients needed to enhance production of fresh food. The spent grain and Spanish reed, food waste and plant waste were used to produce organic compost using the Bokashi process. This research aims to demonstrate the yield obtained from the application of various kinds of organic compost mixes made using the Bokashi process. The compost was further utilized in growing vegetables such as Chillies, Bell peppers, Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes It was discovered that compost from spent grain and Spanish reed and 90% Food waste, showed a better yield across the vegetables grown and had highest values of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. The use of organic waste and transforming it into usable compost was found to be a feasible business solution and the compost provided the essential elements needed to produce fresh vegetables. The products were also well acceptable at the market because of high quality.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.