Mrs. Rutere’s biogas story: double benefit from dairying for Embu Dairy Cooperative Society - Kenya
|Source : Land O’Lakes - Land O’Lakes|
Embu Dairy Cooperative Society (DCS) started with 139 members to help in creating efficiencies that would ease their burdens of school fees and other requirements by collecting and marketing milk, initially at 400 liters per day. Today, with approximately 3000 active members, the society collects between 7,500 liters and 11,000 liters per day. This is as a result of intensive capacity-building by KDDP on artificial insemination (A.I.), planting the right fodders, and feed conservation, clean milk handling and zero-grazing systems, which allowed members to utilize their farms more intensively. However, the members have developed other grand ideas- BIOGAS!
Mrs. Rutere is one of Embu DCS’s progressive women dairy farmers, rearing three cows in a zero-grazing unit. Through KDDP, she has received considerable training on animal husbandry, as well as support from Embu DCS through their extension officer, Mr. Gichohi.
To cater for her home’s monthly energy needs, Mrs. Rutere used to spend Ksh. 2700 (38 USD) per month on energy. Since installing the biogas unit, her monthly expenditure for energy has gone down by 50 percent.
One of the benefits of a zero-grazing system is that the farmer is able to collect manure as the animals are confined. The collected can then be used as fertilizer to increase farm productivity, as well as to produce energy for cooking and lighting through use of biogas. The Land O’Lakes field team is placing emphasis on polythene bag-based biogas systems, which can be set up cheaply using the same polythene material farmer’s use for tube silage. If cared for properly, the polythene tube has a life span of four years. With approximately 131 USD or less, farmers can quickly set up a biogas unit, compared with costs for other biogas systems that can reach over 700 USD. This has given the polythene already extensively used in feed conservation a dual role as a raw material for constructing biogas units. From October 2005 to date, 30 Embu households have been able to set up biogas units. For an area that has a high population density and accompanying difficulties sourcing wood fuel, the biogas units have been a welcome alternative source of energy as well as having a vital environmental impact through fewer trees being cut down for firewood. In terms of domestic chores, women and girl children spend less time looking for firewood, thus making it possible for women be involved in productive work while the girl child can have more time to study and do homework.