Harvesting water from air, growing vegetable from recycled glass bottles and farming maggots for medicinal purpose might be some of the ways to encourage new entrepreneurs in Bhutan.
But this will only come true if what Dr. Gunter Pauli, an entrepreneur associated with READ (rural education and development) Bhutan, a local NGO, is considered. He was presenting sustainable business ideas at a meeting in the capital yesterday.
The presentation showcased 16 innovative eco-friendly projects, of which seven was found to be most suitable for Bhutan. With these ideas, within 10 years, 10,000 jobs could be created, the presentation said.
Harvesting water from the air may sound unrealistic. But it has proved to be a success in many other parts of the world.
“This could be possible in the Himalayan kingdom,” said Dr. Gunter Pauli, who explained that a business to supply water could be set locally at minimal cost.
This is done by a new technology sheet (similar to the CGI sheet used in Bhutan) which captures the humid air and converts it into water that is collected to be used as drinking water.
For example, the same technology was used for the U.S. army in Afganisthan. The sheets where laid on the tents that absorbed water that could be used. This method can also be adopted in Bhutanese pockets where water is scarce.
These sheets can be produced in Bhutan, using the raw materials that are easily available. This can be much cheaper then setting up huge power projects, where a lot of money is send on infrastructure and engineers, rather than the water, the presenters said.
Maggots are in some form a part of Bhutanese life, whether it is from rotten cheese or the earth worm. But maggots were never thought to be of medicinal purpose or they could be farmed.
Entrepreneurs can be borne out of maggots, with a simple technique of farming them. This can be done through wastes from animals. For centuries maggots have been used by people to heal wounds. For instance, Napoleon Bonaparte used them to heal soldiers wounded in war.
This can be a very cheap and effective way of treating wounds and also the maggots can be a nutritious diet for birds.
“It is a kind of industry that is possible in Bhutan,” said Dr. Gunter Pauli.
Another entrepreneurial idea is to convert waste glass into building materials.
This would give a chance to convert and promote glass agriculture and building, combined with creation of jobs in Bhutan.
Another idea inspired by nature to create jobs and to have a sustainable society is rethinking the use of making plastic, Dr. Gunter Pauli said.
Bio-plastics can be made out of potato starch. In Bhutan, potato is a cash crop sold across the border. But, it can be used to generate employment.
Novamont, the largest company in the world to produce bio-plastics from potatoes, is willing to train people in Italy and send them back to their country to set up an industry. This can be an opportunity for Bhutan to convert the ban plastic bag ban into a job opportunity.
According to Tshering Tenzin, field coordinator for READ Bhutan, a policy document will be prepared, which will incorporate these ideas.
Read Bhutan will provide technical assistance to those interested to start eco-friendly businesses.