A day in the life of a 25-year-old farmer from Colombia – Part 1

Carlos Bejarano: You know what would be an amazing research question? How to develop a logistics model with organic matter in order to make trash disposing more sustainable in Bogotá.

Ángela Delcast: Wait. What? Please break that down for me.

Carlos giggles.

A day in the life of a 25 year old farmer from Colombia pt 1 - featured

Carlos Bejarano, 25-year-old industrial engineer. Founder and main grinder at Finca Mahindra.

CB: Look at what’s in a garbage truck and you’ll see everything is mixed up. There’s things like diapers, all types of plastics and then there’s organic matter mixed up into all of it. Ask yourself, how can we separate organic matter from the get-go, starting at the beginning with the truck that picks up the garbage and convert all of that into quality compost? This would be ideal because it would reduce organic matter from getting mixed-up with solids that prevent organic matter from degrading.

Take for example a tangerine peel tight in between two bits of plastic. Because the tangerine peel is not in its ideal medium for it to become compost, it doesn’t degrade and that awful smell called putrefaction forms and those huge garbage landfills keep growing.

So imagine if garbage trucks were able to separate organic matter and keep it from mixing with other plastics and turn all that into compost. Compost would be free! Or it would cost very little. Reducing landfill growth and helping farmers out by reducing the cost of an input. That’s my dream. I’ve thought about it but you really need to be very careful to account for the many variables to be handled, like all the different acids and combustion products that come from the degradation of organic matter inside a garbage truck.

Anyway, it’s something worth thinking about, it would probably reduce at least 1000 kilograms of garbage per month in Colombia: garbage which currently ends up in landfills. By providing this low cost compost, it would motivate more ecological farmers.

Colombian organic agriculture is less costly in the long run

AD: The other day I read an article in The República newspaper where it said that the only Latin-American country whose percentage of organic farming decreases is Colombia.

CB: No, [the percentage] it has gone up, but very little. What are the products that are ecologically grown the most? Coffee and bananas. Here [Colombia], we’re still at a point where people pay too much attention to the price tag and growing ecologically is supposedly more expensive.

However, a study from Incauca [a Colombian company dedicated to harvesting and processing sugar cane] showed that the costs from growing ecologically are lower than the costs from traditional techniques from the third year onwards. While it is true that some costs will be higher, the costs from machinery and input will be lower.

10:00 a.m. We get off the car to buy compost. We wait outside the locked house turned industrial building for several minutes.

To read part 2 click here.

To read part 3 click here.

 

 

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