SUMMARY: Imagine a world where Africans no longer have to cut down trees for fuel, where farmers have access to free organic fertilizers and where young girls no longer have to drop out of school! We’re making that world possible by making clean cooking energy and organic fertilizers from agricultural waste.
PROBLEM SPACE: Over dependence on fuel-wood is a major cause of deforestation in Africa. As forests disappear, young girls have to drop out of school and spend long hours in the field gathering wood. African farmers also depend on some of the most depleted soils in the world and yet they are too poor to afford fertilizers.
SOLUTION: 80 percent of Sub-Saharan Africans depend on wood for fuel. This is a major cause of deforestation. As forests disappear, many young girls in Africa are dropping out of school and spending many hours in the field gathering wood. Also, African farmers depend on some of the most depleted soils in the world and yet they are too poor to afford fertilizers. This is a major cause of malnutrition and starvation in Africa.
As a solution to the above challenges, at Eco-fuel Africa we invented a sustainable method of making clean cooking energy and organic fertilizers from agricultural waste. Our clean cooking energy cooks better, is less smoky and is cheaper than fuel-wood. Our organic fertilizers (biochar) are also environmentally friendly and help to sequester C02 by burying it in the soil where it belongs.
The foundation of our project is the two revolutionary machines that we invented. They include:
1. A low-cost kiln which carbonizes agricultural waste. These kilns are leased to rural farmers who are taught how to use them to carbonize their agricultural waste into biochar. We then buy some of the biochar from the farmers while some is retained by the farmers and used as organic fertilizers. Already 1,000 farmers in Uganda have benefited from these kilns;
2. An energy efficient briquetting machine which is used to turn the biochar into briquettes that can burn in stoves currently used for cooking in Africa. We are already providing over 3,500 families and over 500 small-scale businesses in Uganda with clean cooking fuel using these machines;
However, what is unique about our project is the fact that local communities are involved at every stage of the project. Local farmers are involved as suppliers of biochar; we employ local youths to operate the machines and transport our clean cooking fuel on bicycles to our network of distributors and we also work with local women to bring our clean cooking fuel closer to users in Africa. Our project is also keeping many young girls in school and reducing the problem of indoor air pollution. But that’s not all; a portion of our income is donated to tree planting initiatives in Africa.