Use of biogas for value addition and sustainable livelihood. Take a moment and envision a person living in a rural, off-grid village in sub-Sahara. He/She has been depending on growing of crops but the weather has become so unpredictable due to climate change and farmers is making losses year in year out during harvest due to lack of rains. The farmer decides to invest his scarce savings in 5 cows. It seems a wise investment: unlike maize or rice which provide seasonal income, cows provide income on a daily basis (in terms of milk). However, in reality, the milk business turns out frustrating: Due to bad roads, a lack of electricity and hence a cold storage facility. The farmer is compelled to only milk once (morning) a day. The farmer cannot milk in the evening because of lack of storage overnight. Also, the traders take unfair advantage of their lack of cold storage and show up at the end of the day, offering rock-bottom prices. Instead of the $ 0.22/litre the farmer could potentially earn, the middle men offer only $ 0.10/litre because they know the farmer cannot keep the milk overnight.
This is the reality of Teso region. This has caused the region to be known for hunger and poverty.
This unfair power play is exactly what motivated our first clients to sign up for our biogas- powered gas fridge. Many of them had never heard of biogas technology, were unfamiliar with gas-fridges and hence had concerns about the performance and lifetime of the system.
Through the grant from USADF, Green Heat selected 20 farmers to benefit from a subsidized rate for the biogas systems with 15 of these farmers receiving fridges. These farmers were so frustrated by the challenges and decided to invest in the systems. Luckily, the biogas- digester proved to be a profitable investment: 4 of the first 5 customers used the fridge to expand their business activities, by adding more cows or by producing yogurt. The remaining 16 farmers were also able to increase their income by milking twice a day. The good news travelled fast and in the following months, 10 more farmers ordered a system in Eastern Uganda and 23 more farmers have shown interest from western Uganda. The farmers in Kumi have also been able to generate lighting from the installed biogas digesters.
The farmers that received the digesters have also been able to apply the slurry. Crop yield increase has not been measured due to the prolonged drought.
Green Heat in collaboration with the district has been able to organise 3 workshops for the farmers to train them how to make yogurt and also improve their farming techniques.
The workshops have enabled the farmers form 2 groups. They use these groups to share challenges, successes and also negotiate for a uniform price from milk traders.
They also intend to sell their crops as a group.