The importance of sustainability has been stressed throughout the world after AGENDA 21. Sustainable development is what we should be aiming, and various approaches including energy conservation, renewable energy utilization, and carbon dioxide sequestration are being made. The situation is the same for agriculture. Agriculture in the developed country often consumes more energy than is possessed by the product agricultural crops. For the sustainable development is to be attained, sustainable agriculture is to be sought.
Based on this situation, the APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) sets priority on sustainable agriculture and related environmental issues. APEC's 21 Member Economies are listed as follows:
Since member economies of the APEC is not always developed countries, and agriculture is of much importance for the economies under development, it is desirable that sustainable agriculture leads to improvement of farmersf standard of living as well as their income. It is also true that biomass resources such as cattle manure and rice straw are rich in these economies. If the effective use of biomass is achieved in rural area of these economies, its advantage should be much larger than biomass utilization in the cities, considering the community activities and closely related or shared areas for daily activities of production and consumption.
However, the utilization of biomass in these economies is limited, and the benefit of using biomass has not been enjoyed sufficiently in the farmland, especially in the rural area of the Asian economies. This is due to (1) lack in information and understanding about the benefit obtained by the effective use of biomass, (2) regulations in the region that prevents achievement of community activities (lack in leaders or purposes for the activities), and (3) cost associated with the biomass use, lack in technology, or difficulties in obtaining materials.
Based on this fact, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery, Japan held Biomass-Aisa Forum in the fiscal year of 2005, and analyzed examples of biomass utilization in Asian economies, and exchanged information on these issues.
Among the examples were found low-cost technologies for biomass utilization such as simple biomethanation plant, and the possibility of prevailing the technology to the other Asian regions was pointed out.
Understanding the possibility of biomass utilization for the benefit of farmers, considering the importance of sustainable agriculture, and aiming at contributing to the APEC activity as a member of the organization, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery, Japan decided to conduct an investigation on biomass for sustainable agriculture. The Ministry opened a bid for the investigation and Japan Institute of Energy was selected as the investigation body. The Institute set two committees for this purpose: Investigation Committee for the Sustainable Agriculture and Investigation Advisory Committee for the Sustainable Agriculture.
The members of the committees are as follows:
This report is the result of this investigation, and is intended to be shared by the member economies of APEC.