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Rice husks turn into recycling treasure

When Samuel Rigu visited Mwea town in 2013, his mission was to look for the best rice. After visiting different milling stations he realised that they had a lot of rice husks, which was not properly disposed of.

It is then that the agribusiness expert decided to start his own company to produce briquettes from the waste. He talked to different millers and they all agreed to give him rice husks for free since they didn’t have a way to dispose it of.

This was the incentive he needed to start his project in September 2013 in Ngurubani, Embu County. “Before then I was working as a farm manager for an NGO, Turning Point International and I used to train farmers on organic farming,” he said.

Unknown to him the rice husks have the highest ash content, so when he made his first briquettes they couldn’t even boil a pot of milk. As he was researching, another idea was born and he decided to make eco-friendly mosquito coils, but they also couldn’t last long.

They only lasted for six hours whereas the other coils burn for eight hours, making his product unviable. “I lost Sh400,000, the highest amount of money I have lost in my life. I thought of giving up and going back home in Kinangop to continue with my farming business,” he said.

His quest to come up with a product from rice waste made him spend few months doing a pilot project and this time he decided to come up with an organic fertiliser.

The idea worked perfectly, even though at first in 2014 the end product was not that good. “By 2015 Safi Organic Limited had come up with our special recipe, which when combined with rice waste works perfectly and gives 100 per cent organic fertiliser,” he says.

Crop residues/wastes have great potential for recycling as organic compost. They are a principal source of carbon, which constitutes about 40 per cent of the total biomass on dry weight basis.

The product has won seven awards and five recognitions from different organisations such as Total Kenya. It has gone through all tests and has been certified by Kephis as eco-friendly and is readily available for sale countrywide.

A 50 kg bag goes for Sh1,500 and the 25 kg one is sold at Sh750. The fertiliser (Safi Sarvi) buffers the soil Ph, reduces plant mortality after transplanting, retains water for long and increases your yields by 30 per cent.

“We have a factory with a production capacity of two tonnes per day and currently we have 500 direct customers. Our fertiliser can absorb carbon dioxide from the air thus solving global warming problem,” he says.

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