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How plastic biogas digester can fired up urban dwellers homesteads

A complete plastic bio digester unit. Filled with solid waste like cow dung, it produces gas and the bio slurry which is a form of fertiliser. [Jeckonia Otieno, Standard]

Every month, Alphina Wandia used to spend Sh2,000 on vegetables and another Sh2,000 on fuel. That amount used to leave a dent in his pockets. But in 2014, he found a solution to his fuel problem.

“I got wind of this technology of plastic bio digesters for clean energy. The idea sounded so good, I decided to give it a try. Now it fires up my kitchen and I do not need to buy fuelwood and charcoal,” says the mother of three.

Wandia, who lives in Rogori, Embu County says instead of buying costly fuel, she uses cow dung from her two cows and two goats to feed the biodigesters, which them produce gas.

Concrete biodigester plants are more common but she opted for the plastic version because it is cheaper, can be moved around and repaired easily.

Three of her neighbours also have the plastic version and the benefits are evident.

Wandia says she saves at least Sh5,000 per month on fuel costs and earns extra cash from her vegetable farm.

Plastic biodigesters are taking over where the concrete ones failed and farmers are being urged to invest in this as it saves not only costs but is friendly to the environment. One of the products of biodigesters is bio slurry which used as organic fertiliser.

Chandu Shah, the chair of AquaSanTec Group says plastic biodigesters are an affordable option for small-holder farmers who would want to embrace technology but lack the means.

To operate, the biodigester system is filled with bio-degradable materials, which includes dung. He says bio slurry is the supreme fertiliser which is not only organic but also saves the soil from effects of the inorganic fertiliser.

Vegetable farm

Shah made a presentation on how small-holder farmers can change their lives through a partnership between the plastic container makers, credit facilities and the Kenya Biogas Progamme.

AquaSanTec Chairman Chandu Shah explains a point to Agriculture PS Prof Hamadi Boga during a function at Kentainers on Monday. [Jeckonia Otieno, Standard]

In its quest to reach as many farmers as possible, AquaSanTec supplies the products and services at the doorstep of the farmer to meet the needs of water, bio slurry fertiliser, biogas and gravity drip irrigation system.

Kevin Kinusu of the Kenya Biogas Programme says to increase uptake of biogas in Kenya, the programme continues to push for affordability of the digesters.

“A farmer can now get a biodigester for between Sh55,000 and Sh100,000 and we ensure that it is of high quality,” Kinusu says.

He adds that research has shown that a typical Kenyan household burns about 3,300kg of fuel wood per year which harms the environment.

“This is more than what is on offer in the market, which means that with proper engagement and education, small-holder farmers can have better sources of energy through the biodigester.”

Currently, about 20,000 systems have already been installed in Kenya by over 100 contractors who are supported by the Kenya Biogas Programme.