Welcome to the EcoGen News/Blog section, where we share the latest updates on our company’s activities, as well as industry news and expert tips on using biogas and organic fertilizers.
Here, you will find informative articles on a variety of topics, such as:
- The benefits of using biogas as a source of renewable energy
- How to use organic fertilizer to improve soil health and increase crop yield
- The latest advancements in biogas and organic fertilizer technology
- The impact of biogas and organic fertilizer on the environment and climate change
- Case studies of successful biogas and organic fertilizer projects
We strive to provide valuable and informative content that can help our customers make informed decisions about their energy and fertilizer needs. Our blog is regularly updated with new articles, so make sure to check back often for the latest information.
We also welcome your feedback and suggestions for future blog topics. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.”
Malawi farmer’s son turns on the biogas t
By Tiwonge Kampondeni, bird story agency
29-year-old Clement Kandodo still has very vivid memories of his farmer parents’ support for a family of five children. Kandodo himself spent many happy days in the fields with his father and mother and to this day holds his parents up as role models.
“My father was a successful farmer in our community, earning the moniker ‘lead farmer.’ This made me proud as a child because I would brag about my father’s success wherever I went, and I was regarded as a hero among my peers,” Kandodo recalled.
Growing up and being involved in farming, Kandodo, realized at a young age however that ‘not all that glitters is gold,’ as there were significant challenges to his parents’ success.
“I realized my father was having difficulty obtaining fertiliser.” It was very costly for him. “He would sometimes sell some of the livestock to buy the fertiliser bags,” Kandodo explained.
Kandodo credits his current course in life with a desire to find solutions to those challenges. Setting his heart on attending the Bunda College of Agriculture (now part of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, or LUANAR), his wish was granted in 2012 when he was accepted to study agronomy (majoring in crop and soil science).
“Studying agronomy was like completing the puzzle. Just as I was yearning for low-cost farming methods, one of the lecturers brought up a topic about how to make organic fertiliser and cooking gas from waste, during one of my classes. This was a huge inspiration for my career,” Kandodo explained.
His interest in agriculture, environmental conservation, and concerns over youth unemployment figures drove Kandodo – now a YALI fellow – to launch his own company, EcoGen, shortly after graduating in 2016.
Situated in Lilongwe’s Falls Estate, EcoGen specializes in providing biogas technology that allows people to convert available food waste, animal waste, or farm waste into fertiliser, cooking gas, pesticides, and animal feed. The back yard of the office premises is used as a demonstration site, displaying how the technology works, starting with the digester and a garden of different crops.
EcoGen touts its technology both as a solution to Malawi’s waste management problem as well as a solution to deforestation.
Biogas technology employs biodigesters, which function as bins into which all organic waste is disposed of and which is then “digested” (in a process known as aerobic digestion). Fertiliser and cooking gas are produced as a result of the process.
Kandodo has dubbed the ‘waste’ from this process ‘brown gold,’ as it is a very efficient fertiliser. He is overjoyed that the technology allows him to kill more than two birds with one stone.
“I am ecstatic about this technology. Even in the backyard, this system can be installed. The digester consumes food scraps or livestock waste. So, while it can produce cheaper organic fertilizer, it is also the most efficient way to manage waste.”
According to the United Nations Development Programme, Malawi faces a number of waste management challenges, with city councils managing on average only 12 percent of the waste created in their areas, with private waste collectors filling the void. Poor coordination among waste generators (households and institutions), waste collectors, and recyclers makes the problem worse.
According to the country’s 2017-2027 Charcoal Strategy, more than 97 percent of Malawian households rely on illegally and unsustainable sourced biomass (charcoal and firewood) for domestic cooking and heating energy.
“Another significant advantage of using this technology is gas production. It is an answer to women like my mother who used to walk long distances in search of firewood, because once this technology is installed, that household will be able to not rely on charcoal or firewood for cooking but gas – and in the process they are no longer walking long distances to fetch firewood or spending more on charcoal, thereby preserving trees,” Kandodo said.
EcoGen’s target population is diverse and includes farmers, households, and organizations such as hospitals and schools.
The company has won awards for assisting farmers like Yohane Chawoloka of Malawi’s central region district of Dedza. His family now cooks with gas and uses bio fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer, which he makes from chicken, cow, and pig waste.
Chawoloka cultivates maize, beans, groundnuts, potatoes, and cassava, but he also produces milk and has livestock.
To Chawoloka, organic waste has become a source of multiple solutions to the problems he faces as a farmer.
“I am sorry because I have been discarding waste for over 30 years, allowing it to decay in the air and pollute the environment. But after hearing about this technology from EcoGen, I knew I had to have it installed in my backyard,” Chawoloka said.
“I am now saving a lot of money because I now use organic fertiliser that I harvest from the biogas technology,” he continued.
The Dedza-based farmer would previously use 16-17 bags of chemical fertiliser for his crops, spending over K400, 000 (U$390) on a 4-acre plot of land. Now he spends almost nothing on fertilizer and his yield has actually increased. Producing organic fertiliser may look like a filthy task, but Chaoloka’s facial expression tells you otherwise; he appears to be in love with what he is doing.
“You can check it out for yourself. I anticipate having over 200 (50 kg) bags of maize. Furthermore, I am no longer spending the 1, 000 kwacha I was spending on firewood every day because my wife now cooks with gas,” he explained.
The biogas system is long-lasting and Kandodo explained that the EcoGen system comes with a ten-year warranty and a life span of more than 20 years. It costs K987 500 (US$987) with the option of paying in instalments for up to two years.
“In Malawi, people typically spend 20 000 to 30 000 kwacha per month on cooking, and the majority of people spend 120 000 to 150 000 kwacha on fertiliser. So, having our technology means that one will be able to save enough to pay for the system while saving millions of kwachas in subsequent years. Our premise is that once you have our technology, you will begin saving money and, as you save, you will be repaying until you finish. As a result, the technology will become more affordable,” Kandodo explained.
EcoGen is one of only a few companies in Malawi promoting organic fertiliser and the use of biogas for cooking. While other African countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Algeria have inorganic fertiliser manufacturing plants, Malawi is yet to have one – yet the country uses over 500 000 metric tonnes of inorganic fertiliser annually on commercial and subsistence farms.
Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said that farmers are encouraged to produce organic fertiliser, which farmers complement with the inorganic fertiliser to maximise their production, pointing to deficiencies in a purely organic option.
“The nitrogen percentage doesn’t reach the needed 23% in basal dressing and 46% in top dressing. The most benefits one gets from organic manure is that they are cheap and they restore soil fertility,” he said.
While Malawi’s government is doing feasibility studies for the viability of a fertiliser manufacturing plant, the government is pledging support for viable innovations.
The country’s National Energy Policy of 2018 has prioritised biogas and the government has supported a number of biogas projects – and is also promoting the use of biogas at institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons.
“The government is promoting using technologies that are clean, modern, affordable and efficient. These include mini-grids and large-scale power plants.” Ministry of energy’s Public Relations Officer Upile Kamoto-Lali said.
Wellam Kamthunzi, a lecturer in agricultural engineering at LUANAR, believes biogas technology to be both economical and environmentally friendly.
“By using animal waste to produce biogas, you do not lose the fertiliser value, but you improve the fertilizer value while gaining energy in the form of natural gas for cooking and even running engines,” he explained.
Kamthunzi suggested that cities, municipalities and towns use digesters for waste management and that large livestock producers be encouraged to produce biogas from livestock waste.
“All organic waste that ends up in landfills – like those run by the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre – can be used to produce biogas,” he said.
EcoGen has installed over 60 systems, with a goal of installing over 10,000 biogas systems by 2026 to provide more people with access to clean cooking, waste management, and sustainable farming.
EcoGen is a Malawian multi-award winning, youth-led social business enterprise based in Lilongwe, Malawi, that was founded in 2018 and registered in 2021 as a company limited by shares with the Registrar of Companies in Malawi. EcoGen promotes the circular economy concept by designing and installing onsite waste-to-energy solutions.#GrowMalawi#Upto$40,000.00 #InvestmentReadinessSupportUNDP Malawi#MHubGrowthAfrica – Growth Frontie
EcoGen Emerges Regional SEED Awards Winner
Congratulations Clement Kandodo and the team at Ecogen Malawifor being among the winners of the regional SEED Awards. Ecogen was one of the 14 outstanding wealth creation initiatives in Malawi recently profiled by the National Planning Commission under its Ndizotheka Transformative Initiatives series.
Watch the video here
EcoGen African Development Bank Winners of Africa Vs virus
The African Development Bank has announced 20 finalists of the AfricavsVirus Challenge(link is external) who will receive a grant of up to $20,000 as well as access to business development and other in-kind services.
The Top 20 Winners, announced during a virtual event held Friday, have been selected from a shortlist of a hundred applicants who pitched ideas for innovative solutions to the health and economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 20 winning solutions, including a distance learning device from Cameroon, digital business training from Uganda, color-coded soap from Nigeria and digitally-encoded health records in Senegal, are designed to tackle education, economic and health challenges arising from the pandemic.
“The AfricavsVirus Challenge highlighted a diverse capacity for creativity and innovation. It is a direct reflection of how young people are creating tangible opportunities despite facing the adversity of quickly changing and unprecedented times,” said Martha T.M. Phiri, the Bank’s Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development during the event.
More than 25,000 participants from Africa and around the world pitched their ideas during a 72-hour ideathon that the Bank’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab hosted in partnership with the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund in April. The top 20 entrants and their solutions were chosen according to the relevance and impact of each solution, proposed implementation and the qualifications of team members.
“Joining AfricavsVirus was an opportunity to work with a global team to find solutions that were unique to the African perspective. Since the challenge we have been able to gain additional support from government stakeholders and start conversations on the need for more public-private partnerships,” said Tizzita Tefera, a Top 20 Winner who participated in the virtual event. Tefera’s team, Maisha Technology, has developed a solution that uses affordable drones to deliver COVID-19 test kits to rural health centers in Ethiopia.
The initiative was funded by the Bank’s Fund for African Private Sector Assistance, Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-donor Trust Funds (YEI MDTF) and received direct support from the government of Switzerland and the European Commission through the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (IEL). Both YEI MDTF and IEL are programs of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which aims to create 25 million direct and indirect jobs over the next decade and uplift the lives of 50 million young people.
To learn more about AfricavsVirus and the Top 20 Winners visit www.africavsvirus.com(link is external)
TOP 20 WINNERS
Ada Selli Passeport Santé Senvitale (Senegal)
Affordable RE (Nigeria)
BD Waste (Ghana)
Diginue Technology (Nigeria)
Fundi App (Tanzania)
LyfPlus Limited (Tanzania)
Lync Systems (Malawi)
Maisha Technology (Ethiopia)
S-Band Face Shields (Nigeria)
Uzima Health (Kenya)
About the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund
The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund is managed by the African Development Bank and supports the African entrepreneurship ecosystem. Its objective is to promote the creation of durable and sustainable jobs for youth. The Fund focuses on equipping youth and women-led start-ups, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises with skills and financial support to run bankable businesses. It also supports countries implementing economic and social reforms that create jobs.
About the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab is a long-term strategy of the African Development Bank to improve inclusive economic development and investment in Africa’s youth. The Lab works with partners to provide resources and opportunities to African innovators, with an emphasis on youth and women, to help grow and scale their businesses.
2021 SEED Climate Adaptation Award Winner Clean Energy Lilongwe, Malawi
EcoGen designs, manufactures, sells, distributes and installs small, medium and large biowaste bin systems that converts organic waste into renewable cooking gas and organic fertilizer for targeted households.
Their target customers include environmentally conscious consumers, community change makers, small-holder farmers, institutions (schools, hotel, hospitals), government departments and NGOs.
click here on the link below for more details
CLIMATE CHANGE APPLIED RESEARCH INNOVATION CHALLENGE
RESULTS OF THE 2019/2020 CLIMATE CHANGE APPLIED RESEARCH INNOVATION CHALLENGE ARE OUT
We called for Proposals. You responded. Decisions have been made.
We are pleased to give you an update on the Call for Applications for the ‘2019/2020 Climate Change Applied Research Innovation Challenge’ funding.
Out of the 29 proposals that were received, 17 were shortlisted and 12 have fell off. Out of the 17 shortlisted proposals, 9 were recommended to go to the third stage. After a thorough appraisal which included oral pitching by the applicants, 5 proposals have been selected for funding. The following tables summarise the status of the applications at each stage of the selection process. CONGRATULATIONS to the five awardees!!
1. PROPOSALS RECEIVED
|APPLICANT||PROJECT TITLE||APPLICATION STATUS|
|1||Ecogen||Pilot project for charcoal replacement waste bin that produce renewable gas for cooking and fertilizer for farming||Received|
|2||Mzuzu University||Moving away from traditionally fired clay bricks for use in corbelled pit latrine construction||Received|
|3||Quantum Energy||Mobile Solar Irrigation Water Pumping Technology and Commercialization: A sustainable alternative to tread pumps and fossil fuel irrigation engine pumps||Received|
|4||Chancellor College||Technology transfer and commercialisation of solar cookers in Malawi||Received|
|5||Harold Chisale||Assessing the Vulnerability, Resilience and Climate Adaptive Strategies of Forest Dependent Communities in Central and Southern Malawi||Received|
|6||Bvumbwe Research Station||Restocking soil organic matter and improving soil fertility through integrated soil fertility management for sustainable crop production in Malawi||Received|
|7||Clean Energy Solutions||Electricity and Heat Generation from Municipal Organic Waste (Solid and Liquid)||Received|
|8||Practical Action||Piloting the Commercialization of bamboo for firewood and charcoal production||Received|
|9||Thawale Investments||Thawale Smart Cookstove||Received|
|10||Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources||Transfer and Commercialization of Clean Cooking technologies||Received|
|11||Mike Banda||Mutation Breeding of Maize for Anticipating Climate Change in Malawi||Received|
|12||Tiyeni Organisation||Evaluation of Deep Bed Farming Systems in Malawi||Received|
|13||Northern Alliance Financing Corporation Ltd||Improving Policy and Institutional Framework for utilizing carbon finance as modalities for improving and financing Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) implementation in Malawi||Received|
|14||Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources||Exploring Climate Smart Feed Ingredients: An Assessment of sorghum and millet as alternate energy feed ingredients to replace maize in poultry diets||Received|
|15||Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources||Innovative biogas technology for processing livestock farm waste into energy and organic plant nutrients||Received|
|16||The Polytechnic||Solid waste beneficiation for energy generation in urban Malawi: Technology development and transfer||Received|
|17||Wupla Enterprise||Electric bikes for reduction of greenhouse gases emission and rural transportation: introducing e-bike taxi in T/A Kumtaja in Chileka Blantyre||Received|
|18||Emmanuel Nasasara||Stacking Crop Production to Mitigate the Effects of climate change (SCP)||Received|
|19||Dr Elizabeth Manda Matt Investments||Awareness and role of drip irrigation and green house technologies in climate change and green growth in Chitipi||Received|
|20||Malawi University of Science and Technology and Green Impact Technologies||Replication of Tsangano Turn Off Commercial Biogas Generation at Lizulu Vegetable Market in Ntcheu District||Received|
|21||Sanudi Major||Waste to wealth clean energy for livelihoods improvement||Received|
|22||The Polytechnic||Promoting Green Construction Materials Business as an Alternative to burnt bricks for Local communities||Received|
|23||Abel Mkulama||Facilitation of adoption and commercialization of agricultural waste briquettes as a clean source of energy||Received|
|24||Dr Daud Kachamba||Untitled||Received|
|25||HOFA||Improving welfare for women headed households through sustainable energy||Received|
|26||Green Impact Technologies||Pay as you Cook LPG Distribution||Received|
|27||Ndagha Sustainable Foods||Enhancement of ground water-based aquaculture- a tool for economic transformation||Received|
|28||Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources||Designing and assessing the performance of a bungroo groundwater recharge and storage technology for semi-arid flood prone areas as a climate change resilience strategy||Received|
|29||Kamdonyo and Associates||Untitled||Received|
2. PROPOSALS SHORTLISTED
|No||APPLICANT||PROJECT TITLE||APPLICATION STATUS|
|1||Ecogen||Pilot project for charcoal replacement waste bin that produce renewable gas for cooking and fertilizer for farming||Shortlisted|
|2||Mzuzu University||Moving away from traditionally fired clay bricks for use in corbelled pit latrine construction||Shortlisted|
|3||Quantum Energy||Mobile Solar Irrigation Water Pumping Technology and Commercialization: A sustainable alternative to tread pumps and fossil fuel irrigation engine pumps||Shortlisted|
|4||Chancellor College||Technology transfer and commercialisation of solar cookers in Malawi||Shortlisted|
|5||Clean Energy Solutions||Electricity and Heat Generation from Municipal Organic Waste (Solid and Liquid)||Shortlisted|
|6||Harold Chisale||Assessing the Vulnerability, Resilience and Climate Adaptive Strategies of Forest Dependent Communities in Central and Southern Malawi||Shortlisted|
|7||Practical Action||Piloting the Commercialization of bamboo for firewood and charcoal production||Shortlisted|
|8||The Polytechnic||Solid waste beneficiation for energy generation in urban Malawi: Technology development and transfer||Shortlisted|
|9||Wupla Enterprise||Electric bikes for reduction of greenhouse gases emission and rural transportation: introducing e-bike taxi in T/A Kumtaja in Chileka Blantyre||Shortlisted|
|10||Emmanuel Nasasara||Stacking Crop Production to Mitigate the Effects of climate change (SCP)||Shortlisted|
|11||Malawi University of Science and Technology and Green Impact Technologies||Replication of Tsangano Turn Off Commercial Biogas Generation at Lizulu Vegetable Market in Ntcheu District||Shortlisted|
|12||Sanudi Major||Waste to wealth clean energy for livelihoods improvement||Shortlisted|
|13||The Polytechnic||Promoting Green Construction Materials Business as an Alternative to burnt bricks for Local communities||Shortlisted|
|14||HOFA||Improving welfare for women headed households through sustainable energy||Shortlisted|
|15||Green Impact Technologies||Pay as you Cook LPG Distribution||Shortlisted|
|16||Ndagha Sustainable Foods||Enhancement of ground water-based aquaculture- a tool for economic transformation||Shortlisted|
|17||The Polytechnic||Solid waste beneficiation for energy generation in urban Malawi: Technology development and transfer||Shortlisted|
3. PROPOSALS RECOMMENDED FOR PITCHING
|NO||APPLICANT||PROJECT TITLE||APPLICATION STATUS|
|1||Ecogen||Pilot project for charcoal replacement waste bin that produce renewable gas for cooking and fertilizer for farming||Recommended for third stage|
|2||The Polytechnic||Promoting Green Construction Materials Business as an Alternative to burnt bricks for Local communities||Recommended for third stage|
|3||Practical Action||Piloting the Commercialization of bamboo for firewood and charcoal production||Recommended for third stage|
|4||Quantum Energy||Mobile Solar Irrigation Water Pumping Technology and Commercialization: A sustainable alternative to tread pumps and fossil fuel irrigation engine pumps||Recommended for third stage|
|5||Green Impact Technologies||Pay as you Cook LPG Distribution||Recommended for third stage|
|6||Wupla Enterprise||Electric bikes for reduction of greenhouse gases emission and rural transportation: introducing e-bike taxi in T/A Kumtaja in Chileka Blantyre||Recommended for third stage|
|7||Emmanuel Nasasara||Stacking Crop Production to Mitigate the Effects of climate change (SCP)||Recommended for third stage|
|8||Malawi University of Science and Technology and Green Impact Technologies||Replication of Tsangano Turn Off Commercial Biogas Generation at Lizulu Vegetable Market in Ntcheu District||Recommended for third stage|
|9||Sanudi Major||Waste to wealth clean energy for livelihoods improvement||Recommended for third stage|
4. SUCCESSFUL (FUNDED)PROPOSALS
|NO||APPLICANT||PROJECT TITLE||APPLICATION STATUS|
|2||Green Impact Technologies||Pay as you Cook LPG Distribution||Awarded|
|3||Practical Action||Piloting the Commercialization of bamboo for firewood and charcoal production||Awarded|
|4||Malawi University of Science and Technology and Green Impact Technologies||Replication of Tsangano Turn-Off Commercial Biogas Generation at Lizulu Vegetable Market in Ntcheu District||Awarded|
The ideas that were presented in the proposals were so amazing that the selection team found it tough to come up with the final winners. Like in all competitive processes, not all competitors reach the finishing line at the same time. Therefore those that have not been successful this time are encouraged to try again when we call for proposals.
Those that have been successful will be be contacted soon.
Winners of the 2018 RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition
Kampala 06 October, 2018 The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is pleased to announce the 23 winners of the 2018 RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition. The competition attracted a total of 1,332 applicants from 42 African and 4 non-African countries. The following process was undertaken to identify the top 23 winners for the 2018 cohort:
- All 1,332 applications were screened for compliance to the set guidelines.
- All 1,332 applications were evaluated by 3 experts in the first phase leading to 3,996 reviews undertaken.
- Top 233 (17.5%) of all the applicants were selected for second level of evaluation by business leaders, leading to 699 reviews.
- A shortlist of 23 (9.9%) applicants were selected as the final winners of the 2018 RUYEC cohort.
- A decision to select 23 instead of 20 as earlier communicated in the call was guided by the fact that there was a tie among four applicants. The overall selection cut-off mark was 79 percent.
Final Winners of the 2018 RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition
|2||Udekwe Chinedu Martins||Male||Nigeria||Green Economy|
|4||Jean Anthony Onyait||Male||Uganda||ICTs|
|5||Ashiraf Nsibambi Kyabainze||Male||Uganda||Agribusiness|
|6||Emanuel Ng’ambwa Kungu||Male||Tanzania||Agribusiness|
|7||Mark Matovu Ssebijwenge||Male||Uganda||Agribusiness|
|9||Roy Mwangi Ombatti||Male||Kenya||Engineering|
|10||Akwasi Armah Tagoe||Male||Ghana||Agribusiness|
|11||Towenan A. Theodore Ahimakin||Male||Benin||Transport|
|12||Fred David||Male||Kenya||Green Economy|
|13||Murtala Muhammad||Male||Ghana||Green Economy|
|15||Helen Opeyemi Balogun||Female||Nigeria||Agribusiness|
|16||CLEMENT KANDODO||MALE||MALAWI||GREEN ECONOMY|
|17||Elvis K. Amoua||Male||Benin||Agribusiness|
|20||Nabuuma Shamim Kaliisa||Female||Uganda||Health|
|21||Davies Nyaigero Ateka||Male||Kenya||Agribusiness|
|22||Sebarinda Cyusa Patrick||Male||Rwanda||Agribusiness|
|23||Sidje Tamo Armelle||Female||Cameroon||Agribusiness|
This year’s competition builds on the inaugural one, which was organised in 2016 and attracted 756 applications from 38 countries. Ten (10) most competitive youth enterprises were awarded prizes during the Fifth Africa Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference held in October 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa.
The 23 winners selected this year, are invited to the Sixth African Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference from 22 to 26 October, 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya, and will receive their awards on 26th October, 2018.
RUFORUM thanks all the applicants who responded to the 2018 RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition call, and extends appreciation to all reviewers that were able to undertaken a total of 4,695 reviews in the last one and half months.
Download the complete release here Finalists Young Innovators 2018_
The Importance of Building Climate Resilience
Meet Clement Kandodo
Meet Clement Kandodo, founder of EcoGen in Lilongwe, Malawi, and member of the #Resilient40.
At the time of the conference, news of Cyclone Idai was flooding the airwaves, and Clement expresses the importance of building climate resilience to prevent the same scale of devastation in future extreme weather events.
Follow Clement on Twitter: @clementkandodo1
THE IMPACT OF BIOGAS TECHNOLOGY TO THE COMMUNITIES
Due to increased deforestation rates, Malawi has lost most of its vegetative cover, which has led to loss of soil nutrients through erosion in times of heavy rains.
95% of Malawians use firewood and charcoal for cooking energy which poses a health risk to women and girls as they are continuously inhaling smoke. It is worth noting that women in the rural spend six hours a day collecting firewood for cooking, the time which could have otherwise been used for productive activities.
Since inception in 2018, EcoGen has been providing biogas technology solutions across the country helping people turn waste into a resource.
Biogas system acts like a waste bin for bio-degradable organic wastes which converts organic wastes into Gas (For cooking & heating) and fertilizer (This can also be used as pesticides and livestock feed supplement)
Mr. Samuel Dzonzi from Dedza district, T/A Kaphuka testifying on the impact of the biogas technology at his household. He has two milking cows whose dung is used to feed the system.
According to Dzonzi, since the installation of the system, he has noticed a significant change in cooking energy savings as well as fertilizer savings. He no longer uses firewood for cooking nor chemical fertilizers and pesticides in his garden .
‘I am very satisfied with the biogas system since my animal house is always clean and it is really quick, it takes less than 20 minutes to prepare a meal. Apart from the gas I also produce fertilizer which I apply in my garden. The same fertilizer helps me generate income as I sell the fertilizer to the community. This fertilizer is better than chemical fertilizer because it is rich in nutrients and can also be used as pesticides,’ Dzonzi said
Dzonzi further said this is a great opportunity to have modern homes and at the same time creating good environment for the future generation.
Let’s love our environment and starting using other alternatives like biogas systems he concluded.
DZALEKA CASE STUDY
Dzaleka refugee camp is in Dowa district has been purchasing over 18 tons of firewood for cooking energy under the school feeding program for about 6 000 students.
Now cooking is made easy and faster with biogas, they no longer spend on firewood. The biofertilizer produced from the biogas system is used in the school gardens hence increasing crop production, money savings as well as conserving the environment. .
Mr. kapondera , a teacher at Dzaleka primary school commended a great difference from the times the school was using firewood to when the biogas system was installed.
‘With the coming in of biogas, purchasing of firewood and late preparation of porridge for the students is a thing of the past.’ Kapondera said.
Kerina Katsala is among the ladies who prepares porridge for the students. Kerina agrees with kapondera that biogas is the best energy source as compared to firewood since firewood gets wet especially during the rainy season, this leads to delays in porridge preparation
‘Biogas is good especially to us women, it saves us time to do other things like business and gardening. We were facing the challenge with smoke but using biogas there is no such problem we can cook freely without any challenge.’ She concluded
Among many benefits of biogas system, is waste management, making our communities clean thereby creating an eco-friendly generation. Be part of the solution today! Make the switch to biogas!!
Biogas venture EcoGen is giving Malawi’s rural farmers a climate-minded tech upgrade
September 30, 2021
Life in rural Malawi is pretty low-tech. Essential functions, like cooking and heating the home, still depend on firewood and charcoal – with significant social and environmental impact.
Clement Kandodo remembers the burden that his mother and other community women endured because of dependency on wood for the household. They spent hours walking long distances to collect wood and burned it for cooking over indoor fires, exposing themselves and their children to poor quality, smoke-filled air.
“I developed a desire to end this burden at an early age,” Kandodo tells AFN.
Three years ago, Kandodo launched EcoGen. The company distributes small-scale biogas technologies to convert agricultural waste into a sustainable source of fuel and fertilizer for Malawi’s farming-dependent rural households. Its mission is to provide rural populations with safe, affordable, and efficient cooking and heating fuels.
Its bigger goal is to combat food insecurity, poverty, and climate change.
That may sound lofty, but it’s also necessary. Around 80% of Malawians depend on farming to earn a living, yet over half of the country’s 18.6 million people live below the poverty line. Kandodo observes that the agriculture sector is highly vulnerable to external shocks, particularly climate change. Government efforts to boost agriculture, including a farm inputs subsidy program, have largely failed to have the desired impact, he adds.
What’s more, rural Malawians’ dependence on charcoal and firewood has contributed to declining forest cover. And on the issue of indoor air pollution, the World Health Organization estimates that 4.3 million deaths per year worldwide are attributed to diseases associated with solid-fuel-based cooking and heating.
“In biogas, we saw an opportunity to bring better technologies that would be of greater benefit to farmers, including [supporting] climate adaptation,” says Kandodo.
Biogas technology, while somewhat prevalent in Africa’s larger markets, is fairly new to Malawi. Before launching EcoGen, Kandodo found that the technologies available locally were costly and burdensome for users to install and maintain. Also, a dearth of training meant that households lacked knowledge on how to use the technology effectively.
EcoGen partners with Mexico-based biogas system manufacturer Sistema Bio to offer a range of modular, affordable, pay-as-you-go biodigesters and accessories designed specifically for smallholder farmers. These systems convert farm waste into both biogas for household use, and fertilizer. They do not require any construction, can be installed within a day, and are easy to operate and maintain, Kandodo says.
EcoGen has sold about 80 units, impacting about 3,000 people in rural, ag-based communities.
Gaining traction with a technology that was unfamiliar locally wasn’t an easy feat. Farmers who had already tried biogas often had poor experiences and received little support from the public and non-governmental organizations that introduced the technology.
EcoGen is combatting skepticism in several ways. First, it understands that affordability is important. Its systems cost about $850 – too much for most farmers to pay out of pocket, so the startup offers a flexible payment option, allowing users to pay in installments over a period of two years. It also offers asset financing.
Second, product quality is critical. EcoGen provides a 10-year warranty for its systems. (The systems are built to last 20 years or more.)
EcoGen hopes to scale up its deployment to 10,000 biogas systems, reaching 200,000 people, by 2026. Part of its growth strategy includes expansion to Zimbabwe.
It has yet to close a seed funding round. But its potential for impact at the intersection of energy, agriculture, water management, health, rural poverty, and climate change has won the company a number of awards.
Most recently, EcoGen was the recipient of the UN-supported SEED Award for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development, clinching $15,000 as a winner of the Climate Adaptation category. It has also won $20,000 from the African Development Bank’s AfricavsVirus Challenge and $40,000 from the Climate Change Research and Innovations Awards, organized by the Malawi government.
Kandodo says that perhaps more than EcoGen’s potential health and gender impacts, the awards “show the world is appreciating our efforts in deploying a technology that helps reduce greenhouse gases emissions.”
September 30, 2021
Renewable option amid energy crises
By Alick Ponje:
In a small kitchen with its brick walls heavily blackened by soot, Lucy Chakhala, gently stirs a black pot of boiling vegetables and looks around for salt to apply to the relish.
Only three months ago, her house, sited between two seasonal rivulets at Nathenje on the southern outskirts of Lilongwe City, had firewood all over.
“Now, my family no longer uses firewood for heating and cooking. We are using biogas,” says the 41-year-old mother of three.
Chakhala is semiliterate but still understands how her community’s acts of clearing its towering trees and dense shrubs for wood fuel have left once-verdant crop and wild fields parched and less productive.
The tragedy has pushed her into a renewable and clean energy initiative which, when she had first heard about two months previously, had seemed too complicated for an untrained local.
“Generating biogas is not as complicated as many people think. For poor households like mine, there are simple ways of doing that,” Chakhala says.
The pitch-black walls of her kitchen and the black pot are a reminder of the past when firewood stood supreme and rainfall patterns were stable enough for farming.
Now, through one of the walls, a metal pipe goes from a container placed outside the kitchen, to a gas burner where Chakhala does the cooking.
In close and distant fields, small tree shoots and saplings are offering hope to her community which is now in search of climate redemption just like many other parts of the country that are feeling the pinch of unpredictable and dangerous weather patterns.
“Beyond the fact that as many of us opt for biogas, a few trees remaining in our fields and woodlots will be protected, this kind of gas is also non-polluting,” Chakhala says.
Clement Kandodo, Founder and Managing Director of EcoGen, a multi-award winning social business that provides innovative and sustainable biogas technology solutions to smallholder farmers, urban households and other locals like Chakhala, says the technology addresses food shortage, poverty and climate change.
The mixture of gases, produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, is proving essential in communities not yet connected to the national grid.
EcoGen’s biogas system process is carried out using small and medium decentralised fermentation units for local processing of easily available organic wastes into clean energy for cooking, lighting or heating.
“The organic waste remaining in the bottom of the bio-digester, also known as slurry or fertiliser, can either be processed and marketed as fertiliser or can be used for personal gardening or farming,” Kandodo says.
At 26 years old, he and three other youth who share his vision have taken the clean energy campaign as one of the most important parts of their lives and are determined to see more Malawians switching to biogas as a source of energy.
Kandodo’s firm’s biogas plants have been described by those that use them as more efficient and affordable.
Unlike other plants which primarily use cow dung as feedstock, EcoGen’s plants use any kind of organic waste such as livestock manure, kitchen or even human waste.
Currently, the organisation is promoting biogas technology through students from Natural Resources College and communities surrounding the college so that they integrate biogas as a source of energy out of their resources while also reducing forest destruction.
“This will then tackle climate change and support agriculture through, among other measures, applying bio-fertiliser resulting from biogas production to improve soil fertility,” Kandodo says.
His firm’s business model has earned awards on being a successful start-up with innovative ideas on addressing environmental challenges the world is facing.
EcoGen has been recognised by institutions and forums such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Aid and International Development Forum; Nigeria Energy Forum Ideas Competition; Global Innovation through Science and Technology; and Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Enable Youth Programme.
At the AfDB programme, the youth-led firm was among 10 early start-ups in Africa providing innovative solutions to smallholder farmers to reduce food shortage and fight climate change.
Now, EcoGen has procured more advanced biogas materials, which according to Kandodo, will significantly simplify the process of making the gas, especially for rural households.
Environmentalist and researcher, Gift Chimika, waxes lyrical about biogas, saying the product, reduces greenhouse emissions.
“Since there is no combustion taking place in the process, there is no emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. While wood as a source of energy most common in rural households produces deadly gases, using gas from waste as a form of energy helps in combating global warming,” Chimika says.
He adds that in the course of researching on the feasibility of biogas use among rural Malawians, he has come across EcoGen’s prototypes which offer hope for the future.
“It is particularly refreshing that young people are championing such initiatives. Continuing to rely on wood fuel is dangerous for a country like Malawi whose vegetative cover is disappearing at a very fast rate.
“Biogas should be sufficiently promoted. Our hydro-electricity generation is one of the lowest in the world. We surely need these alternatives,” Chimika says.
According to the researcher, biogas is also ideal because its plants lower harmful emissions by capturing and using them as fuel.
And for Chakhala and her family, the simple plant in their household is also saving them from the arduous task of fetching firewood from faraway forests.
It is also preventing them from being exposed to hazardous smoke which results into respiratory diseases attributable to household air pollution sparked by inefficient use of solid fuels for cooking.
“We will paint our kitchen to remove the soot on the walls. Then the cleanliness of our new energy source will be there for all to see. The walls will not turn black again,” Chakhala says.
And Chimika is optimistic that if youth-led initiatives like that of Kandodo and his peers are given adequate support, Malawi would not be worrying much about energy problems.
“It is possible for biogas to completely replace other energy sources most used by people in rural locations such as wood, charcoal and plant res
Welcome to EcoGen MW
EcoGen provide advanced biogas technology for production of biogas energy and bio fertilizer, our product and services are biogas systems, biogas accessories, bio-septic tanks systems, solar systems, consultancy in biogas solutions, waste management and organic farming.
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