Inside Sh1.2 billion organic fertilizer plant in Western Kenya

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa and US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman during the commissioning of the fertilizer plant. [Okumu Modachi, Standard]

In less than two years, farmers in 14 counties which form the Lake region economic bloc will be buying fertilizers at subsidized prices.

This is thanks to a new fertiliser plant being constructed in Kakamega County which will also create more than 1,000 jobs within and around the region.

The County Government of Kakamega and the US government have signed a pact to construct the multi-billion facility with Regen Organics as the implementing company.

The construction of the facility in Matawa area, Mumias West Constituency, was commissioned in May by Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa.

Regen Organics will construct and equip the organic fertilizer plan for a period of 18 months at a cost of Sh1.2 billion.

The project has been made possible through a partnership with the US government and the County Government of Kakamega.

The plant will serve residents in 14 counties; Kakamega, Vihiga, Kisumu, Bungoma, Nyamira, Kisii, Homa Bay, Migori, Bomet, Busia, Nandi, Trans Nzoia, Siaya and Kericho.

“Kakamega is one of just 8 counties which were considered as the most prepared for these investments by USAID, and this plant is the second in Kenya,” Barasa said.

US Ambassador to Kenya Margaret Whitman said the pact between Kakamega County and Regen Organics is an example of successful public, private partnerships.

Whitman welcomed the move to construct the fertilizer plant saying food production will improve in the region.

“This project will contribute significantly to economic growth and also put valuable agricultural input such as fertilizer and animal input,” Whitman said.

Barasa said that with rapid urbanization, generation of waste is increasing at an alarming rate.

“Kakamega and Mumias towns alone generate upwards of 2,400 tonnes of waste per day,” Barasa said.

This, even as the county has a capacity of mopping just about 1200 tonnes of solid waste per day.

Finer details show that the plant will convert organic waste which includes food waste, fodder, sludge, agricultural waste, byproducts of seafood to produce animal feed and fertilizer.

The factory will have a capacity of 36,000 tonnes of organic waste collected from Kakamega County and its environs.

Once the plant becomes functional, it is projected that the waste will be converted into an upwards of 7,000 tonnes of organic fertilizer annually.

This plan will also save residents from the effects of environment pollution, as the waste is put into better use.

Regen Organics Managing Director Michael Lwoyelo said that the project will help increase yields and also mitigate climate change effects.

“Regen Organics collects organic waste and converts it into valuable agricultural inputs for productive farming,”Lwoyelo said.

This, he said includes organic fertilizer for horticulture and staple crops, insect protein for livestock feeds and green energy for equipment.

Vihiga County Governor Wilber Ottichilo lauded the County and US partnership for implementing an environmentally friendly project.

Ottichilo said that the fertilizers will improve farmers’ yields in the 14 counties.

“As the Council of Governors we are going to support this noble initiative because waste management is our biggest problem especially in urban areas,” Ottichilo said.

Ottichilo is also the chair of the environment committee in the council of governors said consistent use of inorganic fertilizer has caused acidity to soils.

This, he said has seen reduction in production of food; hence the need to adopt organic fertilizer plant in other regions.

“We must ensure all methane produced from our waste is not allowed into the atmosphere, instead it will be processed into organic fertilizer which will improve agricultural production,” he said.

Regen Organics which is also a founding partner of Sanergy Collaborative prides itself in safely removing organic waste generated in cities and their environs, and converting it into valuable products.

Further, the company processes 60,000 tonnes of waste annually, and utilizes solar power and renewable fuels to produce 8,500tonnes of organic fertilizer.