Managing Muck and Marketing it Right

Compost production and marketing in four local authorities of the Batticaloa District.

Compost production and marketing in four local authorities of the Batticaloa District

Solid waste management is a growing concern in Sri Lanka. To help develop sustainable solutions, a team of researchers from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has been working in Batticaloa District since 2016. This is a part of a project funded by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), a component of the European Union Support to the District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) in Sri Lanka.

Nilanthi from IWMI’s RRR team assists the field training at the compost plant belonging to the Kattankudy Urban Council (KUC). Photo: Justin Dupre / IWMI

The IWMI team working under this project represents the Institute’s Resource Recovery and Reuse (RRR) research group. Last month (May 18 – 26, 2017), our team organized a training program titled Enhancing compost production processes and marketing strategies in four local authorities of the Batticaloa District: Batticaloa Municipal Council (BMC), Kattankudy Urban Council (KUC), Manmunai Pattu Pradeshiya Sabha (MPPS), Manmunai South and Eruvil Pattu (MSEP). The program aimed at strengthening stakeholders’ capacity through training on best technical practices and marketing strategies. The ultimate aim is to ensure the provision of sustainable waste management services in the district.

The training program follows up on research that the IWMI team conducted in 2016. Researchers assessed the performance and potential of the compost plants in Batticaloa, and presented their results at a stakeholder workshop held in September 23, 2016. The training was designed to fill gaps identified during the study and from feedback obtained through stakeholder engagement. It was noted that the capacities of key stakeholders need to be further developed in the areas of technology, safety, and marketing, as the compost facilities will eventually be managed and operated by the respective local authorities.

Solid waste management unit heads, compost sales staff, compost plant supervisors and operators work together to identify best practices. Photos: Christopher Patacsil & Samurdhi Ranasinghe / IWMI

The training program was thus designed to provide professional preparation for all key stakeholders, developing their technical knowledge and business skills as well as providing hands-on experience required for the improvement and maintenance of compost plants. The training sessions also provided a platform for different stakeholders – including solid waste management unit heads, salespersons, compost plant supervisors and operators – to work together. The training was conducted by resource experts from IWMI, with support from the University of Kelaniya and the Eastern University of Sri Lanka.

The week-long training involved a comprehensive program focused on:

  1. Best technical practices
  2. Best practices for compost product application
  3. Marketing strategies

The first two days of the training (May 18- 19) focused on marketing strategies for compost products. It was attended by solid waste management unit heads, compost sales staff, compost plant supervisors and operators of the four local authorities; heads and extension officers of the Department of Agriculture (DoA); and development officers with the Department of Agrarian Development (DAD). The marketing sessions concentrated on marketing concepts for compost as well as strategies for resource allocation, product differentiation, production planning, distribution, partnerships and promotion. Participants also had the opportunity to develop their own marketing plans, using those concepts and strategies.

The third day (May 22) brought together representatives of farmers’ organizations, which are imperative for successful marketing of the compost produced and for the sustainability of the compost plants.

Technical training was provided on May 23 – 24 to the same employees of the aforementioned four local authorities. The technical sessions focused on soil fertility management, compost versus inorganic fertilizer use, organic farming, integrated plant nutrient management, best composting practices, and new technological development and quality compliance.

Moving from theory to practice, the last two days of the training program (May 25 – 26) included field activities at the compost plants of each local authority. Participants were provided with hands-on practical experience, using a structured and supervised format to support practical implementation of the knowledge they had acquired during the technical sessions. The field training aimed at preparing the compost plant operators to conduct operations efficiently in their local settings.

The IWMI team with representatives of the four local authorities. Photo: Christopher Patacsil / IWMI

The training program proved successful in bridging the previously identified gaps in local capacity and was well received by stakeholders. Participants noted in particular that the program served as an excellent platform for collective engagement of different entities.

IWMI’s RRR team was represented by Miriam Otoo, Sudarshana Fernando (Resource Recovery and Reuse Expert), Mohammed AheeyarNilanthi Jayathilake and Ganesha Madurangi (Consultant at IWMI).

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