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Applying Industrial Symbiosis

to Smallholder Farms
Modeling a Case Study in Liberia, West Africa
Jose Alfaro and Shelie Miller

industrial ecology The study of industrial symbiosis (IS) has largely focused on the exchange of energy and
industrial symbiosis materials among industrial processes in an effort to increase value and reduce environmental
integrated biological systems impact. Agricultural systems, particularly those located in developing countries, can benefit
integrated farming systems from the principles of IS. Relatively few studies have analyzed the potential benefits of
integrated material and energy flows in smallholder farming, even though these systems are
considered essential to the world’s food supply and poverty reduction.
Supporting information is available Although the concepts can be applied to virtually any system, the study of industrial
on the JIE Web site symbiosis has traditionally focused on industrialized systems in developed countries. The
research presented here applies the principles of IS to smallholder farms using optimization
techniques to maximize farm output while minimizing wastes. Our research links IS to the
growing field of integrated farming research (IFR), which seeks to create new technologies
that increase the production of farms by viewing the farm as a system. Bridging these
fields enriches the potential for robust research outcomes in both areas and fills a current
knowledge gap. IS benefits from exploring new applications and increasing its penetration
into the developing world. IFR benefits from established IS tools to create alternate pathways
for increased output based on symbiotic relationships.
A small farming system in Liberia, West Africa, is used as a case study. System integration
of individual unit processes shows increased productivity and decreased waste. The results
of this analysis indicate that there are unrealized opportunities for IS in developing countries,
and integration of IS techniques into smallholder farming operations has the potential for
impacting sustainable development.

Introduction creating an integrated network of industrial units. Using an IS

framework, systems where each component becomes more ef-
The field of industrial symbiosis (IS) studies the exchange fective as a result of its interactions with others can be revealed
of material and energy streams among industries in relative or developed and is considered one of the evolutionary steps
proximity to one another (Chertow et al. 2004). The facilities toward a sustainable region (Chertow 2003).
participating in such exchanges achieve improved performance Kalundborg, Denmark, is the subject of a number of early IS
as a result of the symbiotic relationship, which can be measured analyses and where the term “industrial symbiosis” was coined
environmentally, economically, or socially. Many of these ex- (Chertow 2003). The application of IS has traditionally focused
changes allow wastes to be used as inputs for other processes, on large-scale industrialized activities in developed countries.

Address correspondence to: Jose Alfaro, Center for Sustainable Systems, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 3012 Dana Building, 440
Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1041. Email: Web:

© 2013 by Yale University

DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12077 Editor managing review: Donald Lyons

Volume 18, Number 1 Journal of Industrial Ecology 145


Other major research foci within IS include uncovering poten- plates of symbiosis that could be used to reproduce the Kalund-
tial linkages among established industrial systems and devel- borg experience. Two of those templates include agriculture,
oping principles to appropriately design and incentivize eco- namely, combining farms and canneries and cement and fer-
industrial parks (Chertow et al. 2004). tilizer industries. Finally, in an analysis conducted by ZERI, a
Unlike industrialized nations, least developed countries brewery is integrated with mushroom production, chicken rear-
(LDCs) rely heavily on small farm agriculture, or smallholder ing, and fertilizer, creating a complex with zero emissions to
farming, and have few large industrial districts. Smallholder the environment (Ehrenfeld and Gertler 1997). The complex
farming presents a unique opportunity to implement the princi- produced more nutrients for human consumption and created
ples of IS in a nonindustrialized context. Interventions toward more jobs without increasing the inputs to the system.
sustainability are most effective during the early stages of sys- Apart from the ZERI efforts, the industrial ecology (IE) com-
tem development (National Research Council 2001; Nikolić munity has focused their research of agricultural systems on
and Dijkema 2010); therefore, LDCs may have the potential to large-scale operations (Hardy and Graedel 2002; Swanston and
adopt IS principles more successfully than already industrialized Newton 2005). On the other hand, IFR applications are based
nations. By expanding its scope beyond traditional industrial ac- on smallholder families and their farms (Food and Agriculture
tivities, the use of IS can influence small-scale initiatives that, Organization 1991). Thorough analysis of IS opportunities for
in addition to contributing to the knowledge base of IS, can smallholder farming appears to be a gap in the IE literature, with
foster new economic opportunities for LDCs. only Hardy and Graedel (2002) and ZERI (2013) explicitly ad-
The field of integrated farming research (IFR) started in the dressing small-scale systems. This article attempts to expand the
1970s and 1980s (Simmonds 1985). IFR uses systems thinking application of IS theory to the smallholder farms to investigate
to improve the performance of agriculture, focusing on small- the benefits of bottom-up approaches. The study shows that the
holder farms and the well-being of farmers. IFR also uses on-farm IS objective of increased system efficiency complements the IFR
experiments, systems modeling, extension services to farmers, objective of increased farmer well-being and that both can be
and demonstration experiments for new production schemes pursued simultaneously.
(Simmonds 1985). However, IFR does not explicitly consider
the environment or creation of closed loop systems, but fo-
cuses on improving the performance of a farm by integrating Expansion of Industrial Symbiosis
the farm’s different units. It draws its boundaries at the scale
Researchers have identified a number of research goals for
of the farm and does not consider compatible processes outside
IS, including:
the farm system.
As such, the more holistic approach entailed by IS can com- – Investigating bottom-up implementation techniques for
plement IFR research. Examples of overlap between IS and IFR environmental, economic, and social benefits
already exist, although they are often unnoticed. According to – Empirical implementation of IS at different locations and
the Zero Emissions Research Initiative Network (ZERI), Dr. scale levels
George Chan pioneered the development of integrated biosys- – Determining how IS can add to general sustainable de-
tems (IBS) (ZERI 2013). IBS are systems that seek to close velopment and society
loops of resources and wastes in agricultural settings, in essence – Grounding IS in the language and local economic activ-
an expression of IS. Hardy and Graedel (2002) define integrated ities of diverse countries (Isenmann 2003; Chertow et al.
biological systems as clusters of farms that share resource and 2004)
waste streams and identify them as a type of eco-industrial park.
Perhaps the best example of IBS is the Montfort School for Boys IFR’s particular focus on LDCs and small-scale agriculture
(MSB). At MSB, Dr. Chan developed an integrated system that makes it a good vehicle for the advancement of these research
uses pig manure to generate methane in a biodigester. The ef- goals. It allows the exploration of bottom-up techniques, applies
fluent of the digester is then used in shallow ponds to grow algae methods at a different geographic scale, and works in the con-
and further treat the waste. Algae are then used to feed fish in text of different countries. Further expanding IS into the field
polyculture ponds that house niche species feeding on different of IFR offers three main benefits: (1) the opportunity to become
types of nutrients in the water. Further production is obtained relevant to a larger variety of systems and a larger population;
by growing vegetables on rafts and on the embankments of the (2) the avoidance of future environmental impacts, particularly
fish ponds (Klee 1999; ZERI 2013). if smallholder farms were to adopt industrialized farming prac-
IS case studies also show an overlap between industrial tices; and (3) the enrichment of both fields through the lessons
and agricultural approaches to IE. Kalundborg, for example, learned.
integrated local farmers with the industrial system by link- Smallholder farms typically produce goods for family subsis-
ing discharges of excess heat to a local fishpond to increase tence, selling any surplus in the market place, which provides
production. The sludge from the pond was sold as fertilizer, their only source of cash income. The world has 500 million
whereas organic materials from farms were used by a pharma- smallholder farms, home to 2 billion people (International Fund
ceutical company and waste sludge distributed to local farms for Agricultural Development 2011a). These farms are respon-
(Ehrenfeld and Gertler 1997). Nemerow (1995) provided tem- sible for the majority of agricultural production in Africa and

146 Journal of Industrial Ecology


Table 1 World statistics showing the relevance of agriculture in

2009 (Food and Agriculture Organization 2010)

Indicator Percent of world total

World agricultural population 38

Agricultural economically active population 40
Agricultural rural population 49
Agricultural GDP 3.2

GDP = gross domestic product.

Asia and house most of the world’s poor and malnourished

population (International Fund for Agricultural Development
2011a). Figure 1 Theoretical grounding of proposed work.
The international community sees these small farms as key
to poverty alleviation, sustainability, and food security. They
are expected to play a major role in providing an increase in
food production of 70% by 2050 to keep up with the urbaniza-
results to provide practical aid to farmers (Whitbread et al.
tion of the world (International Fund for Agricultural Devel-
2010). Utilizing IS approaches and modeling tools provides
opment 2011b; Altieri 2009). However, as table 1 shows, agri-
more information to the farmers for decision making. It opens
culture garners only 3.2% of the world gross domestic product
opportunities for greater profitability and the inclusion of en-
vironmental considerations. This is where the theory of IS can
Substantial productivity increases will be necessary to reach
tie directly to the IFR needs and create a successful expan-
the goal of a 70% increase in production by 2050 (Livingston
sion of both fields. Figure 1 shows that the work presented can
et al. 2011). Two focal areas have been identified for success
be grounded in the theories of both fields as it addresses key
in the IFR field: (1) diversification of farming income through
research goals.
nonfarming processes and (2) capturing high-value activities
and products (International Fund for Agricultural Development
Konia: Modeling a Case Study
By implementing IS principles, it is expected that LDC farm-
ers can achieve increased food production and income. IS ap- A community development project in Konia, Liberia, is used
proaches can be used to recover waste and integrate material as a case study to demonstrate the potential for complementary
and energy flows, increasing performance and reducing environ- IS and IFR research. The project is typical of smallholder oper-
mental impact. In addition, IS practices can identify pathways ations in this country. Projects such as these are established in
that do not rely on increased chemical inputs and the mono- an attempt to reinvigorate the economy after Liberia’s 14-year
culture practices typical of industrialized agricultural systems. civil war decimated the agricultural economy and destroyed
Rather, increases can be achieved through niche exploitation, most of the infrastructure of the country (Milbrandt 2009). A
material exchanges, and optimization schemes, as will be illus- model is presented that estimates the potential income gains
trated below. Benefits can also come from the exploration of (and waste reduction) that can be achieved from applying IS to
nonfarm products and activities such as new technologies for smallholder agricultural economies.
energy, water treatment, fiber production, and alternative forms In the next section, a “baseline scenario” describes the cur-
of feed for animals. Fostering relationships between small farms rent production units and managing practices of the project. An
to form a network of energy and material exchanges can bring “integrated scenario” is then proposed where the production
further increases in production. units are realigned and the management strategy is changed
This work integrates IS and IFR by using system modeling to incorporate IS principles. The integrated scenario specifi-
and optimization techniques and by conducting the analysis cally identifies waste exchange and product flows and outlines
in terms of farm carrying capacity (both in terms of increased the creation of niche opportunities for new production units
productivity and employment levels), a metric not commonly that increase the income of the farm. An optimization model is
used in IS. used to calculate the most productive use of the area. The two
IS often uses modeling and forecasts to plan and design sys- scenarios are compared using the functional unit of “carrying
tems and quantify the improvement of an overall network. Early capacity,” defined in this article as the number of people the
IFR literature suggests that a lack of modeling of agricultural sys- land can sustain by generating enough money to pay for their
tems that includes environmental concerns and decision mak- salaries.
ing by the farmers is one of the gaps in the field (Hansen 1996). The integrated scenario can be seen as an example of IBS.
More recent literature suggests that the modeling community It has not been fully implemented, but is a proposed model for
needs to provide more emphasis in communicating modeling system improvement.

Alfaro and Miller, Extending Industrial Symbiosis to Smallholder Farms 147


Konia Farm: The Baseline Scenario pigs generally arrive at the marketplace with approximately
250 pounds (lbs)2 of sellable mass (Johnson 2009). The market
The projects are located in the village of Konia, in Lofa price for pork is around $1.14/lb.3 Waste from the pig farm is
County, Northern Liberia. Konia has a population of nearly buried with plans to someday use it as fertilizer.
2,000 people and is the base of operations in the area for the The rabbit farm sells around ten rabbits per year. These
Christian Revival Church Association (CRCA), a nongovern- animals are fed with a mixture of wild greens obtained from the
mental organization (NGO) that owns the farm where the IS surrounding areas and can also be fed with the leaves bought
exchanges are being implemented. Lofa County is in an area for the pigs. Rabbits are sold live in the market at a price of $20
of high biodiversity known as the “Upper Guinean Forest,” per animal, with the animals having an average weight of 4 lbs.
recognized as a top priority in the conservation agenda by Con- Waste from the rabbits is also discarded by burying it.
servation International, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and There are six fishponds at the farm, all stocked with tilapia.
the United Nations Environmental Program (Conservation In- The total surface area of the ponds is 0.65 acres. The fish are fed
ternational 2007; UNEP-WCMC 2010). This highlights the with rice bran gathered from one of the 14 rice mills around the
need for sustainable practices. area or from the rice bran left over at CRCA’s mill. Volunteers
Optimization of farming systems provides great value to the do not track the amount of rice bran provided to the fish. Each
development of the area, which has little economic activity pond is harvested twice a year. The yearly output of all the ponds
other than subsistence agriculture and charcoal production. combined is around 2,300 lbs of fish that sell in the market
These activities can inflict heavy damage to the ecosystem. for around $0.75/lb. Fish are harvested by draining the ponds,
IS techniques can increase revenue from the same amount of releasing the nutrient-rich water into nearby marshland.
land and maximize its carrying capacity, lowering the threats to A diesel generator powers the rice mill on the farm. One
the surrounding forest. gallon (gal)4 of diesel can process around 65 lbs of rice. CRCA
The authors have a long-standing relationship with CRCA does not own local rice plantations, but local farmers bring
that dates to 2008, when they performed work at different their rice to be cleaned. Farmers pay for the mill services with
sites around Liberia as consultants for community development a percentage of the rice cleaned. CRCA keeps 2.2 lbs for every
projects and financial operations. CRCA’s mission is to estab- 13 lbs of rice processed. That represents around 17% of the
lish development projects in areas of the country where no other clean rice. CRCA pays $4.50/gal for the diesel, making the cost
NGO or government organization is present, regardless of the of running the mill around $0.36/lb of rice kept by CRCA. The
communities’ religious, tribal, or political affiliation. Further, price of rice in the market is around $0.35/lb, meaning that
CRCA focuses on creating projects that will increase the liv- CRCA is operating the rice mill at a loss. Leftover rice bran is
ing conditions of the community in general while generating used to feed the tilapia in the ponds.
income for their operations. However, the lack of a system- CRCA has achieved a good relationship with the commu-
atic approach to their current development plans offered new nity, which helps maintain the general farm activities. As can
opportunities to explore the potential for symbiosis. be seen in figure 2, the projects are managed in a linear fashion.
CRCA’s farm in Konia is made up of five major production Waste streams in the farm are not utilized, with the exception of
units, as shown in figure 2: guest house; piggery; rabbit farm; rice bran. No real coordination exists between projects. Perfor-
fishponds; and rice mill. The total area of the farm devoted to mance data are not well documented. What data are recorded
economic activity is less than 0.7 acres,1 but the area avail- are usually not shared among project coordinators.
able to CRCA is 173 acres. This land contains several natural
springs, some swampy areas, and typical tropical vegetation. All
Developing a Rural Symbiosis: The Proposed
production units are managed by CRCA. CRCA’s ownership
Integrated Scenario
of all the production units simplifies the establishment of IS
relationships. Using IS, the production units can be integrated into one
The model only includes material and energy flows directly “ecosystem.” The integrated scenario portrays a sustainable ap-
related to symbiotic exchanges. As such, some of the guesthouse proach that does not depend on donations from the community
material and energy flows lie outside the boundary of the system and minimizes pollution and resource extraction. In this way,
and are not included in this analysis. These flows include the the integrated farm system employs both the principles of IS
consumption of electricity and water for hygiene purposes, as with reduced emissions and increased material cycling and the
well as the production of human and kitchen waste. Others, principles of IFR with improved self-sufficiency.
such as the flow of methane from the anaerobic digester, are In the proposed approach, several production units are in-
included within the system. tegrated to create benefits to the overall system. Further, new
The pig farm sells around ten pigs a year. Volunteers feed production units are introduced in the farm to take advantage
them with a slurry of papaya and rice bran. In the absence of of niches defined by nutrients and wastes that are underutilized.
that feed, leaves of cassava and sweet potatoes can be purchased. Fishponds, for example, can also serve as rice paddies (Frei and
CRCA takes pigs to a butcher that charges a nominal sum to Becker 2005). Planting rice in the fishponds achieves better
prepare the meat for sale. Data for the average weight of the economic yields than planting in the available swampy areas.
pigs are not available. However, according to revenue data, Fish provide fertilizer to the rice and eat weeds and pests that

148 Journal of Industrial Ecology


Figure 2 Present state of Christian Revival Church Association land and projects, baseline scenario.

inhibit rice productivity. Rice stalks provide shade and food to In the integrated scenario, an anaerobic digester is added to
the fish. In addition, the method results in reduction of pesticide utilize the manure of the animals. This will produce methane
use (Fernando and Halwart 2000), elimination of weed control (An and Preston 1999) that can be used for cooking in the
measures (Vromant 2001), elimination of fertilizer for the rice guesthouse, decreasing charcoal consumption and improving
(Lin and Yi 2003), and elimination or reduction of external air quality. The biogas digestate can be used as fertilizer (An
feed for the fish (Haroon and Pittman 1997). et al. 1997). In addition, the integration of a garden growing
The rice mill becomes profitable by growing paddy rice on- more Liberian dietary staples, such as cassava, eggplant, peppers,
site, reducing the cost of operation and providing a steady source and ocra, can increase dietary variety and provide extra feed for
of rice bran. Excess rice bran can be fed to the rabbits to improve the pigs and rabbits.
their diet (Raharjo et al. 1986) or it can continue to be used to A general schematic of the proposed integrated scenario is
supplement feed to the fish. shown in figure 3.

Alfaro and Miller, Extending Industrial Symbiosis to Smallholder Farms 149


Figure 3 Proposed integrated scenario of the system.

Calculation of Possible Benefits The annual per-capita salary used in the model is $600
per year, which is the CRCA salary for staff in charge of the
An optimization model is used to compare the possi-
projects analyzed. However, for 2008, the average GDP per
ble revenue from the entire land available under each sce-
capita in Liberia is only $240 per year (Ministry of Planning
nario. The model maximizes the revenue for both scenar-
and Economic Affairs (Liberia), Government Of Liberia, and
ios by changing the area devoted to each production unit.
United Nations Development Program 2010). The discrepancy
The maximum yearly revenue in dollars per year ($/yr) is
between CRCA’s salaries and the average GDP is the result of
divided by workers’ average yearly salary in dollars per per-
the high unemployment rate and prevalence of informal eco-
son per year ($/pr/yr) and the amount of area (acres) re-
nomic activity in Liberia.
sulting in a measure of carrying capacity in persons per acre
The optimization model is represented by the following
formulas shown in equations (1) and (2):
Other metrics, such as utility values based on multicrite-

ria analysis, a farm’s resistance to stress, and the farmer de- Ma xCC = Zi (1)
velopment index, have been used to determine the sustain-
ability and performance of farms in previous studies (Andreoli where
and Tellarini 2000; Hansen and Jones 1996; Qiu et al. 2007).
(Ai∗ AYi∗ Pi ) − (Ai∗ AYi∗ C Ri∗ C Fi )
However, this article employs carrying capacity resulting from Zi = (2)
the state of the economy in Liberia and because providing S
jobs is considered one of the most important roles of this where:
Data required for the model come mainly from interviews
r MaxCC = the maximum number of people supported per
with CRCA staff and historical performance of the projects, year.
including yields, market prices, and number of animals sold
r Zi = people supported by production unit i.
(Johnson 2009). Where historical data are unavailable, such as
r Ai = area devoted to unit i in acres.
for new projects being implemented, yields are estimated from
r AYi = area yield of unit i in lbs/acre.
the literature.
r Pi = price of product i in the market in $/lb.

150 Journal of Industrial Ecology


Table 2 Yearly carrying capacity for system under different The integrated scenario outlined in figure 2 eliminates de-
scenarios pendence on these practices and creates further sources of in-
come. The integration of rice and fish allows CRCA to intensify
Carrying Potential profit Profit per
capacity generated area production through paddy rice production in the fish ponds. A
Scenario (pr/acre) (1,000 $/yr) area (103 $/acre/yr) review of experiments in different areas by Frei and Becker
shows that the integrated paddies can produce an average of
Baseline 0.5 52 0.301 4,000 lbs/acre (Frei and Becker 2005). This model uses a con-
Integrated 7.1 741 4.2 servative 3,500 lbs/acre.
Rice production allows CRCA to retain all of the rice
pr/acre = persons per acre; $/yr = dollars per year; $/acre/yr = dollars per
acre per year. cleaned, dropping the operation cost to $0.07/lb and stabilizing
the source of rice bran. The digester utilizes waste to produce
new benefits and eliminate underutilized streams. Diversify-
r CRi = feed conversion ratio of the unit (when applicable), ing income increases the organization’s resistance to drought
that is, the quantity of food required to increase the weight or pests. Eliminating wastes lowers negative environmental im-
of the livestock by 1 lb. pacts, avoids possible health issues, and improves CRCA’s com-
r CFi = cost of feed per lb for unit i. munity image.
r S = salary of an adult in $/pr/yr. Benefits obtained as a result of the integrated scenario are
highlighted in table 3.
The model constrains the relationships of the production
The implementation of the integrated scenario is already un-
units in the integrated scenario, where appropriate. For exam-
derway. Students from University of Liberia, Clemson Univer-
ple, the model is not allowed to tear down the infrastructure
sity, and University of Michigan have implemented the initial
already set in place because that would be a wasted investment.
phases constructing the rice paddy/fish integration, a garden
The total area of 173 acres is entered as a constraint. Con-
nursery, and the anaerobic digester. Monitoring of empirical
straint equations for the model can be seen in the Supporting
data at CRCA farms will make the model robust and increase
Information on the Journal’s Web site.
its accuracy. However, it is important to note that the model is
intended as a tool for system improvement and not a predictive
Model Results
The model results describe anticipated performance of the
Environmental and Social Benefits
farm because the IS projects have not been fully established.
The farm at Konia can be expanded under the present man- The integrated scenario creates symbiotic benefits that are
aging practices to support 0.5 pr/acre. Under the integrated not captured in economic analysis. Those benefits created
scenario, the farm could sustain 7.1 pr/acre. This can be seen in among production units are discussed here.
table 2. Complete spreadsheet model calculations are found in Intensification of production in the fish areas through rice
the Supporting Information on the Web. adds diversity to the farm. Fertilizers and pesticides should not
Several aspects of the baseline scenario can be considered be required for the integrated ponds (Fernando and Halwart
unsustainable. In the baseline scenario, the rice mill operates at 2000), reducing possible costs to the organization and environ-
a deficit, with the value of the clean rice retained being lower mental impacts. Excess nutrients in the water are used by the
than the cost of fuel required. It costs CRCA $0.36/lb of rice rice, reducing waste release to the environment (Lin and Yi
retained when the normal market price of rice is $0.35/lb. 2003). Insects, submerged plant material, and weeds reduce the
The diet of the animals is based on rice bran, papaya, and required feed for the fish (Haroon and Pittman 1997), reducing
wild greens. Rice bran is free of charge from one of the 14 rice manual labor and costs.
mills in the vicinity that see it as waste. Although using rice bran Increasing the rice production of the farm increases rice
for animal feed is one of the few existing symbiotic linkages, rice by-product available that can be used for fish and rabbit feed.
mills may begin charging for this product or use it themselves. Coupling on-site rice production with the rabbit unit increases
During seasons where rice is not being produced, feed must be the quality of diet provided to the rabbits.
purchased for the pigs. Papaya is obtained from community do- The digester and vegetable garden allow for utilization of
nations. Depending on community donations for the operation livestock waste. Unused manure in the baseline scenario is
of a commercial unit is not an appropriate or sustainable manag- transformed to valuable flows of methane and stabilized com-
ing practice. Wild greens are insufficient for rabbits, especially post. Methane reduces charcoal consumption, its cost, environ-
during their nursing periods, when they require higher amounts mental pressures, and health effects. It also establishes a clean
of protein. Rice bran can supply sufficient protein for the rab- cooking facility, identified as a key step in achievement of the
bits, but increases CRCA’s dependence on that supply. Waste Millennium Development Goals (International Energy Agency
from the pig and rabbit husbandry projects is buried under- 2010). Air quality is one of the worst human health concerns
ground. This waste is being underutilized and its accumulation in Africa, killing more people than malaria and tuberculosis
may become an environmental problem. (International Energy Agency 2010).

Alfaro and Miller, Extending Industrial Symbiosis to Smallholder Farms 151


Table 3 Yield data for production units added to the system

Input source

Unit Benefits of symbiosis Baseline scenario Integrated scenario

Piggery 12,900 lbs of external feed eliminated Purchased or received as Produced within
donation the system
Rabbits 430 lbs of external feed eliminated Purchased or harvested from Produced within
surroundings the system
Fish ponds 69,300 lbs of external feed eliminated; Rice mill waste Produced within
source of fertilizer and pest control the system
for rice
Rice paddies New crop source without extra land Not applicable Produced within
use; increases profitability of rice the system
mill; source of feed for animals and
Crops (garden) Generates extra income plus feed for Not applicable Produced within
animals; uses waste material from the system
Rice mill Decreased running costs from $0.36/lb Community farmers, Internal production
of rice to $0.07/lb of rice purchased and purchased
Biogas digester Sanitary disposal of manure; methane Not applicable Produced within
generation to reduce charcoal use in the system
guesthouse; fertilizer for crops
lbs = pounds.

The garden can produce a variety of Liberian staples. Sta- Barriers to Overcome
bilized manure from the digester can increase its yields. Any
The presence of CRCA as the single managing entity sim-
waste generated in the garden, such as cornhusks and damaged
plifies the modeling and decision work. However, other stake-
product, can supplement pig feed.
holders, such as neighboring farmers, community chiefs, and
government organizations, should be involved in the mate-
Model Weaknesses rial, energy, and information exchanges, as IS theory recom-
mends. These stakeholders can widen the network of exchanges
The integrated scenario is lacking empirical data for valida- and create benefits that impact a wider section of the popula-
tion and verification. Empirical data will become available as tion and community while reducing environmental pressures
the projects are established and provide information to address further.
deficiencies in the model. However, the lack of economic activity in Lofa is a barrier to
The model utilizes corn as a proxy measurement for garden the implementation of wider symbiosis. Experience shows that
yields and waste produced. Okra, hot peppers, cassava, and other successful symbiosis grows from the bottom up and with time
crops are more desirable for Liberian diets. Though yield data (Mathews and Tan 2011). CRCA will need to support other
for these crops will be different, price differences may balance farmers in the area to have access to more symbiotic links.
out any deficits or surplus created by the model. Empirical mea- The time lag between establishing projects and seeing the
surements of garden crops and by-product yields will strengthen improved results can be a significant barrier. Hansen explains
the model. that, in developing countries, sustainability is considered as a
A salary of $600 a year was used as paid by CRCA. This short time horizon matter, with farmers thinking about how
is higher than average GDP per capita, but still under the to survive now (Hansen 1996). On the other hand, IS and IE
$2/day line, which is undesirable for the development of the are mainly western constructs that are focused on a long time
community. horizon of sustainability.
The growth of animals was modeled using efficiency data Liberia lacks an institutional framework and historical data
found in the literature (Feki et al. 1996; Smil 2001). Data to promote the kind of projects described here. Del Rı́o and col-
available are a ratio of the amount of feed required by an ani- leagues (2010) explain that with a lack of institutional support,
mal to increase its body weight. Actual feed required to main- innovations can remain stagnant because of cost and remain
tain the animals and help them grow may be different as a expensive as a result of the lack of implementation, creating a
result of numerous reasons such as waste, spoilage, and nurs- vicious cycle. The establishment of policies that encourage sym-
ing and sickness periods. Empirical data will help improve the biotic linkages at the scale of smallholder farms could present a
results. good solution to this barrier.

152 Journal of Industrial Ecology


General Conclusions An, B. X. and T. R. Preston. 1999. Gas production from pig ma-
nure fed at different loading rates to polyethylene tubular biodi-
The essence of IE is to apply nature’s principles to our in- gesters. Livestock Research for Rural Development 11(1). http://lrrd.
dustry models (Isenmann 2003). Small farms and subsistence Accessed 28 October 2013.
agriculture are not generally considered industry, but they also An, B. X., J. L. Rodriguez, S. V. Sarwatt, T. R. Preston, and F. Dolherg.
benefit from the application of these principles. Further, IS can 1997. Installation and performance of low-cost polyethylene tube
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human activity. 38–47.
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Supporting Information
Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article at the publisher’s website:
Supporting Information S1: This supporting information shows the spreadsheet calculations utilized for the optimization
of the carrying capacity of the Konia farm. Both baseline and integrated scenarios (tables S1 and S2) are shown. The
calculations were performed in Microsoft Excel and the Solver extension was used to carry out the optimization.

154 Journal of Industrial Ecology