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Gel from sugar molasses waste promotes clean energy for cooking

The lifeline of the community in Muhoroni sub-county in Kisumu county has for years revolved around sugar cane growing. In the past, the crop economically empowered the residents and their lifestyles were the talk of envious neighbouring regions and travellers along the Kericho–Kisumu highway.

Not much thought was given to molasses waste as a source of income. Little concern was given to adding value to the waste until the concept of green cooking energy gained fame.

Today, the waste is a source of additional income for residents who formerly used to throw it away as waste. A cooking gel is being produced that benefits the residents and others beyond the borders of the cane-growing zone. Consumer Choice is the local firm behind the innovation that puts into use the wastage.

The firm, associated with the Motopoa Cooking Stove, demonstrated how the gel works as a cooking fuel at the recent Nairobi International Trade Fair. The display was a big attraction at the Agribusiness pavilion. “We buy the molasses from farmers, which is then fermented and distilled to get ethanol from which the gel is produced.

The gel is put into a stove that is being sold at Sh2,300 and cooking begins,” said Regina Awino, a sales representative at Consumer Choice Limited, which distributes Moto Poa stove. Awino says molasses waste is a big saving for users accustomed to using charcoal currently selling at between Sh1,400 and Sh1,800 depending on the region, or paraffin.

“From a greeter perspective, the molasses in the long run leads to better health. There are also savings on health as well as value addition on the waste product,” says Awino.

“The environment is preserved because carbon monoxide is not released and less trees will be felled in future for charcoal,” adds Awino. Busy farmers now have no reason to skip lunch because of tight programmes at the farm level.

“They can prepare food in 10 minutes by using steam fusion technology. This saves energy and cash,” says The Fusion Experience Kenya Limited sales representative, Lilian Akinyi Omondi.

Many households, especially in rural settings, waste time and resources when they don’t use clean energy as a source of energy. According to the World Energy Outlook, close to 2.7 billion people rely on traditional cook stoves and open fires, which end up affecting their health and environment.

Ecozoom Jikos are estimated save up to Sh2,000 on charcoal and to use 70 per cent less charcoal. “The jikos have a lifetime of five years and produce less smoke,” says Noreen Kinanja, a marketing and communications associate. According to SNV in Kenya Country Director, Harm Duiken, the organisation has installed 20,000 biogas projects in Kenya.

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