A passion for renewables

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: September 3rd, 2018
  • EARTH grad helps pollutive farms clean up their act, use waste as energy

Since starting at EARTH University in 2010, Rui Madime (’13, Mozambique) has nurtured a limitless passion for producing clean energy from biodigestion.

In 2012, his passion took him all the way to Yucatan, Mexico, where he interned for four months, assisting in the installation of 46 biodigesters on the farms of local Mayan families – enabling them to end their dependence on forest wood by extracting energy from animal waste.

Today, Rui is the cofounder and proprietor of Agropecuaria AM – an ambitious, environmental consulting business based in Costa Rica. The company’s work primarily involves customized biodigester construction, but their product portfolio also includes pork, natural fertilizers and exportation-grade pepper.

“Everything [Agropecuaria AM does] is rooted in what EARTH teaches: innovation, entrepreneurship, social and environmental vision,” Rui said.
“That was all born at our alma mater, our EARTH. I feel we are harnessing our EARTH experience to change the world.”

Alto impacto socioambiental
Agropecuaria AM stands out from the crowd of other biodigester installers by offering environmental consulting throughout the entire lifespan of each installation project, assessing the handling of organic waste during the diagnostic period, planning, execution and evaluation. This is a way to ensure their projects have outsized positive effects.

“Surging population growth is encroaching on long-standing agricultural lands,” Rui explained. “Today, many pig and dairy farms border residential and urban areas. These agricultural businesses have had to face the popular criticism about foul smells, handling waste poorly, the increased presence of flies and other pests, and pollution into rivers causing downstream issues. With the support of our company, the farms we’ve worked with have been able to improve the sustainability of their production. Harmony has returned to the neighboring communities, health has returned to the areas’ rivers, and the farms can continue operating.”

The work of Rui’s company has already improved the methods of more than 70 businesses in Costa Rica and benefited hundreds of nearby communities by extension.

Expanding horizons
“The constant evolution of our service offerings has enabled us to grow and take on new sectors in Central America: pork farms, poultry, dairy, coffee processing, hotels, personal residences, and even governmental entities,” Rui mentioned.

The company continues challenging itself to grow its reach and services. It recently teamed up with two Honduran coffee-growing cooperatives of more than 700 associates to assess their operations and it seeks to attain organic certification for its pepper-growing operation.

“We’re currently training with [Costa Rican export promotions agency] Procomer and expecting our pepper to enter the European and North American markets in the coming months,” Rui said.

Giving back for even greater impact
Agropecuaria AM plans to collaborate with technical high schools in Costa Rica to teach students and faculty how to derive energy and other useful inputs from treated organic wastes. Such lessons will have the added benefit of decreasing the institutions’ environmental footprint, something Rui is very eager to get started.

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