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ADBA attends Sustainable Agriculture session at the Brazilian Embassy  

Last week myself and some of the team attended the third AgriSustainability Talk – “Sustainable Agriculture: what is already working” hosted by the Brazilian Embassy and Apex Brasil. The day was attended by a number of Brazilian officials and industry experts.

The first session was moderated by Cristina Cortes – Chief Executive Officer of Canning house – and explored the technologies available to agriculture as it transitions to a greener way of working while meeting food security needs.  Technology will be key in accelerating this transformation. Data collection and governance, research and knowledge exchange, new ways of working, and novel modifications to current practices were all touted as opportunities for the transition. One such technology included feedstock additives to reduce enteric methane emissions from livestock – which apparently has little impact on biogas potential in manures.

Transport and biofuels were the next topic up for discussion, with the Director of Biofuels at the Ministry of Mines and Energy of Brazil speaking alongside prominent UK figures Jonathan Scurlock – Chief Advisor for Renewable Energy and Climate Change at the NFU and Patricia Thornley – Director of Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute at Aston University. The panel initially focussed on the production of bioethanol form sugarcane in Brazil, but progressed onto the importance of biofuel and associated sustainability measures. While the UK is driving the importance of sustainability criteria in biomass, there could be more to learn from rural countries such as Brazil.  Final messages include the need to ensure governments don’t rest on their laurels when it comes to setting the benchmark for sustainable biofuel, while keeping opportunities open for international trade.

The third and final session of the day discussed policy solutions in agriculture. Speakers Marta Giannichi – Secretary of the Amazon and Environmental Services at the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil – and Guilherme Justo – Program Manager at IDH, The sustainable Trade Initiative – discussed at length about the protection of forests and assessing supply chains. Of particular interest to the biogas industry closer to home, however, was the talk from Gavin Ross about the Sustainable Farming Incentive. While the SFI pilots are well underway and the rollout of the scheme is imminent, those of us hoping to see reward mechanisms encouraging the uptake of AD for manure management were left slightly disappointed. Gavin acknowledged the fact that there were high expectations for the scheme, with a finite budget. Unfortunately, it looks as though uptake of methane mitigation practises won’t be in scope of the fund which begs the question… how will the UK address methane emissions in light of the Global US – EU Led Methane Pledge?

Despite this disappointing revelation, all-in-all the day was an incredibly interesting event in a beautiful setting and well worth the trip. Previous sessions and further information about the events can be found here.

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