The first project of the GIZ concerning the biogas technology in Belize started in 1988. It evolved from a Caribbean biogas dissemination programme of the GTZ which was carried out with the Caribbean Development Bank. Biogas consultants and biogas technicians active in the region constructed three floating-drum plants of the BORDA model within the Caribbean Technology Consultancy Services (CTCS).
Since neither the market forces could take up biogas technology, nor could independent dissemination structures grow, the programme was continued in 1989 along the lines of experience gained during biogas activities in the Caribbean and Nicaragua - to anchor biogas-specific, national know-how in a local dissemination structure. On the basis of this background experience and with the financial, personnel and material support of the Caribbean Biogas Dissemination Programme, a German under local project contract and, in the meantime, a Belizian have been employed in Belize to build up such a structure in cooperation with the state Central Farm and to demonstrate the high performance and efficiency of biogas technology with users.
The leitmotif of this involvement which found striking resonance in the socio-economy reality of Belize was:
- The fastest possible transfer of knowledge to the productive sector
- To induce demand extensively independent of external financing
- To anchor biogas technology in a dissemination structure which would support itself.
To modify the technology, to provide practical demonstrations and to train local masons the construction of six fixed-dome and three floating drum plants was begun with the assistance of regional experts from Guyana, Nicaragua, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands at two biogas workshops. For larger pig producers, plants were built with the aim of reducing the pollution of surface water.
Building five plants for institutions was to:
- increase awareness of biogas technology and
- open the technology up to other areas of application (e.g. wastewater treatment).
An active demand was to be created by means of intensive advertising integrating those active in rural development and with intensive customer advisory services. By linking state interest, social involvement and economic dynamics the dissemination structure was to survive the period of external financing and sustainably anchor and disseminate biogas technology in Belize.
In 1991 the CAMARTEC model was introduced. In comparison to the high input of material and work in plants used previously (reinforced steel vault and fundament), a cost reduction of approx. 15 - 20% was achieved. Since 1993, 20 plants have been built (of these, 5 are institution plants, 13 household plants and 2 are middle-sized plants).
The target group for the household biogas plants has so far consisted of farmers involved in commercial pig production. The majority of biogas users own 5 - 40 large pigs. The remaining pig breeders can hardly be considered as a target group: the insufficient number of pigs, inferior sties and only marginal integration into the market means that these can only be considered in particular cases for biogas utilisation. The users so far normally produce peanuts, maize and beans on cropland of between 3 and 10 acres. Until the construction of the plants, the use of organic fertiliser was uncommon. Plant nutrients are usually provided by means of slash and burn methods, and chemical fertiliser in small quantities.
Biogas technology has a good reputation on the governmental and administrative (mostly Ministry of Agriculture) levels responsible for it. This good reputation has resulted in significant financial involvement for the small country of Belize. In 1992, B$ 62,000 were made available for biogas dissemination and with this, the budget was taken which was financed to 50% by the Caribbean Development Bank in 1991 (budget MoA 1991: B$ 53,000) was taken over. The current budget provides for 3 established posts for the Biogas Office of the Central Farm.
The government classifies biogas technology particularly as part of its efforts to improve rural infrastructure (decentral energy supply) and to substitute imports (substitution of fossil energy sources). The aspect of fertilising has only been considered a side-effect of biogas technology so far.