'Reduce, reuse, recycle" are three fancy words that businesses recite, but very few end up adding any value by putting these mere words into practice. But Bua Khaw Pig Farm is one of the few.
The small pig farm in Nakhon Ratchasima has proved that businesses can turn green and economical even though certain aspects of production are beyond their control.
"Although there are costs that are determined by the market beyond our control, there are other hidden costs where we can reduce and optimise," says Worapot Sajjawatana, owner of Bua Khaw Pig Farm.
"The key is to figure out where in the production process these hidden costs lie."
After 25 years in the business, Mr Worapot was confronted with an increase in costs, including electricity and dealing with large amounts of pig dung with little market value.
Pig food, which accounts for 70% of production costs, has almost doubled in price over the past two years, increasing from 8 to 14 baht a kilogramme.
Thinking creatively, Mr Worapot decided to offset costs by turning pig dung into more than mere waste.
With investment of 1 million baht, partially funded by the Energy Ministry, a 500-cubic-metre biogas facility was built last year to generate electricity from pig manure.
The farm now generates 150 kilowatts of electricity each day from waste, enabling it to achieve near 100% energy sufficiency and halve electricity bills to only 40,000 baht per month.
The biogas facility has also put an end to the need to dispose of 500kg of fresh dung a day by selling it for negligible prices.
Fresh dung only fetches 1 baht per kg but after undergoing fermentation in the biogas facility, it can be sold as fertiliser for 5 baht per kg.
Although the cost of pig food cannot be cut, the farm has found ways to prevent waste caused by the porkers' messy eating habits.
On average, one pig is given 2kg of food per day but only 1.8kg is consumed, while the rest is spilled and later swept into the bin.
"We try to make sure that all the food given to pigs is consumed, and in doing so we then make sure that sows will farrow larger litters," says Mr Worapot, adding that the number of piglets produced by each sow per year can be increased from 24 to 30.
The farm was among the first batch of 15 factories that participated in the Department of Industrial Promotion's Green Agro-Processing Industry Project, initiated in line with the Industry Ministry's aim to make Thailand the leader of green industry in Southeast Asia in the next five years.
"Our aim is to help business discern hidden costs in non-productive output so that they can reduce costs and increase productivity through environmentally friendly means and efficient resource utilisation," says Sirirat Chitseree, the department's deputy director-general.
Kick-started last year, the project selected factories from the meat, fruit and vegetable supply chain. With only 1 million baht invested so far, the project has helped cut costs of 20 million baht for participating factories.
This year, it aims to bring in another five factories and to cut costs of 30 million baht for all participants.
With the Board of Investment's changes of policies to favour green industries, businesses stand to gain more from expected tax reductions.
About the author
- Writer: Soonya Vanichkorn