Bio-slurry, bio-benefits…and more benefits

Next to James Kirubi’s biogas plant is a fish pond bubbling with fish, a green house and an orchard with plants heavy with fruits. What started as a project to build a plant to obtain cooking gas has extended benefits to his farming.  Not only does he save from cooking fuel, but his savings from use of bio-slurry use are phenomenal; and the produce even greater.

About a hundred kilometers away from Kirubi’s farm in Elburgon, Nakuru district in Kenya, Karati village in Naivasha is holding a user training on bio-slurry management at Mama Mbugua’s farm. Tens of villagers, some biogas users and others potential customers attentively listen as they are taken through training on biogas, bio-slurry extension and accruing benefits.

Bio-slurry extension is taking root with farmers acquiring new methods and knowledge on its use – an organic fertilizer that is the end product in a biogas production plant.

As an organic fertilizer, bio-slurry has reduced the need for use of chemical fertilizers that are not just expensive but lead to depletion of natural microorganisms in the soil. And it is not just in the farms that bio-slurry is being used, it has become an important fish meal to fish farmers in many parts of the country. “ it would cost me about one thousand shillings to buy feed for the fish every week before I installed this plant, after training on slurry management, I learnt that the slurry is a nutritious meal for fish and I’m not using a coin on the feed anymore, and the produce is the same,” Kirubi says. His single plant has been able to feed his three fish pods with over 1500 fish.

Kirubi has been able to extend slurry use to green house farming where he grows tomatoes. With two 300m squared green houses, he has been able plant over two thousand tomato plants; and all without use of any chemical fertilizers.

Fish ponds and green houses next to Kirubi’s bio-digester. He exclusively uses bio-slurry for his agriculture and fish farming.

His remaining plot, adjacent to the plant, is an orchard farm with a variety of fruit plants that have seen an increase in yield, and revenues too. His is a dream come true, “I never knew that these cows would have such high potential, the cycle is quite fulfilling and I urge all our dairy farmers to adopt the biogas technology and reap the benefits,” he says.  He installed his biogas plant in 2010.

At Mama Mbugua’s garden, a hill like kitchen garden is being molded. With a bucket at the middle for slurry feeding, the garden has the potential to produce domestic vegetables to a medium household of five. Next to it is a portable garden made from a sack full of compost manure and soil made from bio-slurry.

The portable garden can carry almost a hundred plants at any one given time. Farmers are also trained on production of liquid nitrogen from bio-slurry. Many are interested in the technology and will be willing to install the plants. Some have come from as far as Kinangop, some 60 kilometers away.

Implemented by the Kenya National Biogas Domestic under the Africa biogas partnership programme, the biogas programme in Kenya has seen a tremendous increase in uptake and adoption.

Such efforts on slurry extension are in line with the programme’s objectives to meet the millennium development goals on reduction of absolute poverty and hunger through renewable energy and attendant products. And buoyed by the experience at Mama Mbugua’s home and farm, Peter Thuo, a mason and biogas entrepreneur say the demand for biogas is quite promising. “The enquiries and actual construction is happening at a very high rate and we can only expect better results in the coming period. Farmers are getting more confident when they see the technology working,” he says.