Supporting farmers to use bio-diesel water pumps
Kitui industries was established in 1980, but has been involved in renewable energy since 2011.The company seeks to alleviate the challenge of access to water for sanitation and agriculture by offering small holder farmers with bio-diesel water pumps and generators. Through these they can economically and sustainably improve their food security and incomes. This will be done through the use of bio-diesel which will be used to run the equipment at a much lower cost than conventional diesel thereby reducing their cost of inputs considerably while also providing environmental benefits.
The company’s client portfolio includes four major corporate clients (United Nations Nairobi, US Embassy and 2 Eco-tourism Lodges) and 55 farmer groups comprising of between 10 to 15 farmers per group. Adverse weather conditions due to climate change have led to an erratic supply of their raw material for the bio-diesel which is cotton. The ever changing fuel prices have also affected the business. The volatile international fuel prices creates price fluctuations within the business model. This means that the bio-diesel has to be cheaper than conventional fuel to have a market.
The distribution costs of supplying and fitting the bio-diesel engines and fuel for the project are high. This is due to poor road infrastructure thus hampering accessibility in most areas. It takes a lot of time and effort to educate the market on the advantages of bio-diesel as opposed to using normal diesel, due to the lack of exposure, education and awareness of environmental issues among the target local population.
The company has realized a number of achievements. They have been selected out of many businesses in Africa to be part of the Power Africa project initiated by President Obama, due to the unique solution and model. They have been shortlisted for the Ashden Awards 2017 and selected to do a pilot fuel program by the United Nations Office in Nairobi, due to the quality of their fuel.
Kitui industries intends to continue scaling the project. This year due to the drought weather conditions, there is a lot more interest in their bio-diesel water pumps, will be used to set up mini irrigation networks, where water from rivers, streams and community dams can be drawn to irrigate individual farms. The company is targeting to distribute 105 units by the end of April 2017 and intends to order 105 more units. At the same time, the company is producing an optimum of 5000 litres of bio-diesel per month, which they intend to increase to 7000 by May 2017 to meet the demand.
The Generators will be used to power small scale businesses such as hair salons, welding workshops or refrigerators in off-grid areas, to create alternative incomes for the local population. The use of bio-diesel will also create an income for the farmers as it is produced from locally grown cotton. The cotton is processed at a local factory and the cotton seeds are further processed into oil and then bio-diesel. The business model creates a cycle that produces a ready market for the farmers cotton, while at the same time allowing them to benefit from a cheaper, cleaner renewable form of energy that can drive their growth.
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