From Waste to Feed. Turning fruit and vegetable wastes into livestock feed: Sustainable feed resources with functional properties
General Project Information
Cooperating countries: Austria and Pakistan
Coordinating institution: Ratchaneewan Khiaosa-ard , Thomas Hartinger, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Partner institutions: Mubarik Mahmood, Abdur Rahman, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Lahore, Pakistan
Project duration: 1 September 2021 - 30 June 2024
This picture was taken during the team's visit to a citrus juice plant and the collection of the by-product in February 2022.
As the consumer demands keep rising especially for fruits and vegetables, more wastes are generated causing environmental problems as well as a health hazard when the wastes are not properly managed. A lot of nutrients and energy can still be harnessed by converting these wastes into nutritious feed for ruminants. This strategy not only reduces waste quantities but also converts wastes into valuable protein sources that are still inadequate for the populations of the Global South region. Moreover, turning food wastes into feed is a strategy that can also be integrated into all farm scales because no intensive infrastructure and equipment are required as it will be, for example, for biogas production. Pakistan is an ideal country to adopt this strategy. Pakistan holds a large number of cattle livestock and experiences feed scarcity. At the same time, the country is an important world producer of fruits. Accordingly, via collaboration between University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria and University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan, the proposed project will focus on promoting opportunities for upcycling fruit and vegetable wastes and by-products as sustainable feed resources for cattle farming in Pakistan. An added value of such wastes due to their phytochemicals is also expected.
The project will start by exploring common fruit and crop wastes from citrus, mango, apple fruits, and sugar beet in Pakistan. The selection is based on their abundance, diverse nutrient composition, and diverse bioactive phytochemical profile to diversify its practical applications. Subsequently, the institution partner in Pakistan will perform evaluations of preservation methods, chemical analysis, storage stability, and in vitro digestibility. The knowledge gained from the work in Pakistan will be used to develop the next step dealing with detailed evaluations of effects of selected sources on ruminal fermentation using the Rumen Simulation Technique at the host institution in Austria. In the last phase of the project, we will hold a workshop to disseminate the project results and transfer the knowledge to the research community in Pakistan. The proposed project will create the platform for the local research communities in Pakistan sharing the mutual goal in finding ways for sustainable use of food wastes as well as to attenuate the ever-growing competition between the use of resources directly for human nutrition or as feedstuffs for livestock. By revealing possible resources and know-how knowledge, we hope to stimulate the country’s interest in research dealing with sustainability in livestock production and make further progress. In a long run, we could foresee a reduction of farm feed costs and improved farm efficiency in a more sustainable way.
Contribution to Sustainable Development
The project contributes to solutions of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Firstly, the project has direct relevance for Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Our primary aim is to substantially reduce the waste generation in food production through recycling and reuse. Therefore, the proposed project contributes to achieving the target 12.A “Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production” and 12.5 “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse”. In fact, there are various ways to do recycling and reuse food wastes, though in our view, turning these wastes into livestock feeds is the most practical and cost-effective because no intensive infrastructure is needed and thus it can be adopted by farms of any scales and any types of production systems.
The livestock sector is a large and economically significant sector of Pakistan and thus increasing the efficiency of this sector will have a great impact on the country’s economy and the people’s life quality. Our main aim in expanding feed resources will help farmers to be more flexible and independent of commercial feeds, thereby reducing feed scarcity and feed costs and promoting the income growth of these smallholders. Recycling of energy and nutrients in food wastes and turning it into high-quality animal-source foods increases the food supply of the country. Therefore, the project also contributes to Goal 2: Zero hunger with the aim of providing nutritious food for all and generating a decent income. Complying with this goal, we focus on the methodology and the results that will benefit small-scale food producers. Accordingly, our project supports the achievement of the target 2.3 “By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers”, and 2.4 “By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding, and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality”.