The agricultural and food sector in North Macedonia each year produce huge quantities of biowaste, which participates in the total amount of waste at national level with slightly less than 50%. The global practices have proven that biowaste can give further added value to the economy, by creating new jobs and producing new products. To raise the awareness at national level and to attract the companies form the agricultural and food sector, in late March 2022 UNDP North Macedonia organized a series of three one-day workshops on the transformational value of biowaste created by retailers and producers of agricultural products.
In this first series of Biowaste Management workshop organized as part the UNDP projects, we focused on three specific regions: Polog, Skopje, Strumica. The workshop organized in Strumica also attracted companies from the southern parts of the Vardar region, due to proximity and similarities in the production of agricultural products with Strumica region.
The workshops were attended by representatives of the food sales sector (Ramstore Macedonia and KAM doo Ilinden, 3 participants), food producers (FLEKS POVER DOO Skopje, Rudine MM DOO-Skopje, Evromark foods, TRGOPRODUKT DOO-Strumica, Sloga 88 doо Radovish, Agro-Komerc 92 doo-Strumica, Ekofud-Strumica, Organic Nar-Bogdanci, ECO SHARR-Tetovo, 13 participants), consumers (1 participant) and governmental public national sector (Ministry of Economy, Agency for Promotion of Agricultural Development and Rural Development, Food and Veterinary Agency, 7 participants).
The representatives of these organizations took an active part in realization of the workshops’ activities by providing explanations about their work processes, providing figures related to biowaste quantities as a result from the processing, and indicating the challenges for introduction of innovative solutions.
All three regions have their specifics. Polog region with the production of hazelnuts, beans, dairy products, and eggs. Skopje region, with more than one third of the total population of the country, has vast chains of retail stores that sell vegetables, fruits, and meat, and generate considerable amounts of biowaste. Strumica region is specialized for production of vegetables, fruits, and tobacco. The discussions with the attendees lead to the conclusions that there are big opportunities for national food processing and consequently multiple potential biowaste valorization solutions have been identified. Out of all discussed valorisation solutions, four are most promising:
- Pomegranate peel and seeds
- The peel and seeds of the pomegranate can be used for production of powder that can be used further for fortification of the biscuits, production of free gluten bread and cakes, production of meal dietary supplements, and as antioxidants in fruits salads and meat products.
- The pomegranate seeds can be also used for production of oil which wholesale price can go – depending on the quality – up to 40$ per Littre.
- Potato peel
- By drying on 50oC the potato peel can be transformed into powder. This powder be used as a supplement in animal feed, fortification of the flour for production of bread and cakes or as a raw material for pellets production
- Pelleting of biowaste
- The general biowaste – especially the one that is taken over from the retail stores – can be transformed into pellets that later can be used as energy or fertilizer
The findings from the analysis of the situation with biowaste processing in the national economy suggest that there are several types of measures that can be implemented to support the society in general in its green transition endeavor: awareness raising campaigns and display of the success stories and case studies, provision of professional guidance and expertise in establishing of the biowaste processing technology, continuous cooperation between companies and academia, financial subsidies for the companies, provision of continuous professional development programmes for companies technology specialists, introduction of new occupations related to biowaste processing, etc.
The information about the organisation of the workshops was spread through the network of the participating organizations. Consequently, companies from other parts of the country expressed their willingness to participate in future workshops on the topics of Biowaste management.
The content of the workshops, findings and results from the discussions during the three workshops are provided in a form of Report from Workshops on the Transformational Value of Biowaste Created by Retailers.
The these workshops and the accompanying activities is anticipated to trigger discussions about wide set of policy measure as part of the processes to support the green transition of the national economy. The two UNDP projects, “Bridging the Skills Gap” and “Smooth Meetup of Decentralisation and Future Job Skills” aim to identify and analyze the emerging skills in several economic sectors, and support the process of defining new standards of occupation and design of training programs. In this light, the UNDP will continue to promote the results and conclusions from the realization of the Biowaste workshops’ activities among competent public institutions and policy-makers. The objective is to initiate process of preparation and adoption of policy measures for verification of new occupations in the realm of processes for valorization of the biowaste and design a hybrid training programmes that will support the implementation of the new technologies for biowaste processing in the Agro-food and other related sectors. One proposal for new occupation could be Biowaste Processing Manager; training programmes could be devised for upskilling or reskilling of the existing occupation from the fields of food processing
Following the workshops, discussions within the UNDP team went into the direction of bridging the skills gap in the Agriculture, food production and other related sectors, with an objective to support the processes of biowaste management and processing, as a complementary activity to the potential provision of suitable technology. The design and implementation of hybrid training programmes for professional development the existing professionals in the food sector (and other related sectors) and training of the future workforce is considered an immediate measure. Discussions about the structure and content of these training programmes have been initiated as part of the activities within the project Smooth Meetup of Digitalization and Future Job Skills. As a result, development of syllabi for upskilling and reskilling of certain professionals working in the relevant sectors has been initiated. The purpose is to produce a document that will specify the learning outcomes and the structure of the training content which consequently will lead towards the development of several training programmes for upskilling and reskilling of the technology specialist so they can confidently and efficiently manage the biowaste processing.
Other forms of support for the private sector may include development of business plans and cost-benefits analyses, specification of technologies and tools for biowaste processing, advisory on the use of renewable energy, transfer of innovations and networking with foreign companies, etc.
Article by Future skills centre