In 2014 a qualitative assessment of manure management was conducted. The assessment covered 34 countries in Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South, East and Southeast Asia. Purpose was to identify barriers withholding livestock farmers from improving their current manure management practice. The assessment focused on national policies and the enabling environment. More in-depth information about current manure management practices on livestock farms was gathered in six countries: Vietnam, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Argentina and Costa Rica.
Except for some internationally operating NGOs a general lack of awareness and knowledge about the potential value of a good integrated manure management is noted with all relevant stakeholders.
Good manure management has many benefits, such as mitigating methane emissions, maintaining soil health and improving crop production. Especially the increase of landless livestock farms is a growing concern, since they disconnect livestock production from crop production.
Thirty out of the 34 countries (85%) report having national policies affecting manure management on livestock farms. Policies are mainly defined by the Ministries of Agriculture and of Environment. Sometimes the Ministries of Energy and of Public Health are also involved. The manure policies are generally portrayed as a means to achieving methane emissions reductions and renewable energy targets. Rarely do the policies promote holistic approaches to manure management. Where multiple ministries are involved in the manure policy design, the total set of legislative rules often lack coherency. Overall legislation is not complementary and even sometimes contradictive. Often the legislation shows gaps (single-issue solutions) and does not always fit with the common farm practices. In general the enforcement of manure policies is weak.
Many countries use subsidies and other incentives. But they are mostly restricted to the construction of anaerobic digesters. Stimulating best practices hardly involves components of integrated manure management. Often large farm-equipment is available but, due to the profit of scale, only used by larger farms. Small-scale farmers consistently reported to be less knowledgeable than medium-size and large-scale farmers. The knowledge level of farmers increases with farm size and seems to be related to the level of education. Integrated manure management tends to be most present in school curricula at the level of agricultural universities and vocational training courses.
An effective manure policy, focussing on the added value of manure, should work on four main barriers: the lack of awareness and knowledge, the development of customised solutions for simple manure storage and application equipment and the access to incentive mechanisms. The successful bio-digester programmes in many countries have proven the success of this approach. It is shown that maintenance and the required expertise and knowledge infrastructure is important to ensure continuous use of bio-digesters. It is fair to extend this to manure management as a whole, this is not a one-time action, but requires constant attention in training farmers and extension workers and permanent/long term programmes for financial credits.