Europe & CIS: Poland
ers then began educating other farmers about its possibilities.During the summer of 2002, 3-10 groups of farmers came tovisit per week,some having traveled over 400 km.In November 2002, BARKA demonstrated the technology at an internation-al fair in the town of Poznan,which drew 600 farmers and busi-nesspeople.So far, four installations have been produced, including thedemonstration site at BARKA.One is the result of another SGPproject being implemented by the Village for the XXI Century Foundation in northern Poland where there is a high level of unemployment among farmers.The project supports farmersin developing their own association to produce, manage anddistribute biofuel among them.The fuel cannot be sold,since sofar there are no standards set for small-scale biofuel produc- tion, but instead is shared by farmers informally. A third installa- tion was purchased by a single, wealthy individual farmer whocould afford the entire cost himself.The fourth installation wassold to a group of farmers in southwestern Poland, but thesefarmers purchased it at double the price of the installations atBARKA and Village for the XXI Century Foundation.
To produce rapeseed, farmers grow rape straw on their land.A small scale installation, adapted from a vegetable oil press, isused to extract oil from rapeseeds.After the oil is extracted,itmust undergo re-esterification, sedimentation, and filtrationbefore it can be used as fuel.The process of biofuel productionhas several by-products: rape oilcake, which can be used as asupplement to fodder for livestock, and glycerin, which can besold to chemical or pharmaceutical companies.The biofuel ismixed with diesel,at a 50-50 or 75-25 ratio, and used in regu-lar tractor engines. During the summer, even 100% biofuel may be used.The biofuel from one hectare of rape straw can beused to work 6.7 hectares of farmland.
The reduced use of diesel results in fewer carbon dioxide emis-sions, thereby lessening the impact on the global climate. For afarm that uses biofuel to farm all of its land, diesel use for trac- tors is reduced by 50-75%. In addition, excess rape straw canbe used as cooking fuel, replacing coal or oil.
Local Livelihood Benefits
Farmers save money in several ways through this project, thereby freeing up cash for other purposes. First, the need to buy diesel is reduced by 50-75% if all farming isdone via biofuel. Second, the oilcake produced in the biofuelextraction process supplements animal fodder, thereby reduc-ing the need to purchase livestock feed.Third,if farms producebiofuel on a regular basis, the glycerin they produce in theprocess can be sold via long-term contracts with pharmaceuti-cal or chemical companies. Finally, if excess straw is used for cooking,this reduces the need to purchase coal or oil for cook-ing.
Although the first SGP biofuel projectfailed due to a low level of community trust and organization,efforts since then have been much stronger, and are helpingrestore farmers’ confidence and ability to take part in collabo-rative efforts.
In addition to training farmers in the technical aspects of pro-ducing and using biofuel, these projects are building farmers’capacity to undertake their own initiatives.This capacity may also serve to support other environmental and community efforts in the future.
The BARKA Foundation for Mutual Aid is a large farmer’sorganization that operates a farm at Chudobczyce in north-western Poland. BARKA’s involvement in the project has beencritical, since it was at BARKA that the first successful demon-stration of biofuel was conducted. BARKA’s efforts to educateother farmers about biofuel have also been central. PROMAR, the manufacturer of the first installation,is another partner.
These projects demonstrate the possibilities of small scale pro-duction of biofuel; most biofuel production is done at a muchlarger scale. This potential continues to be tested at the farmlevel through an on-going SGP project. So far, projects haveshown that rapeseed oil can provide power for farming almostseven times the amount of land on which rape str aw is grown.However, one of the main lessons from experience is that vari-ations in the quality of the rapeseed oil produced at a smallscale create the risk that diesel motors may be damaged.So far, this is being addressed by farmers accepting this risk, growingrape straw on their own lands, and sharing the biofuel withoutoffering it for sale .
The design of a small scale biofuel production systemhas reduced barriers for farmers to access the equipment.Theinstallations are produced by a company, which makes it possi-ble for farmers to order the equipment if they can meet thecost.
Since farmers no longer need to buy so much dieselfuel, financial barriers to purchasing additional farming equip-ment,seed,or other materials to help improve their crop yieldsare reduced. Purchasing the equipment itself usually requires anumber of farmers to share costs.
The production and use of biofuel bringsfarmers together to undertake initiatives to improve their ownsituation together. Given the legacy of a centralized governmentregime, and the poverty and isolation that farmers have expe-rienced since then, the project’ impact at this level is perhapsgreater than would otherwise have been expected. Although the future activities of these farmers would need to be trackedin order to determine this, the assumption is that these expe-riences in collaboration and project management will help