Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

12 August 2014

Tanzania: Biogas Tech Set to Raise Farmers' Income

SERENGETI District agricultural team has set up a bio-gas plant which is expected to be exemplary of modern farming and productivity .

In an interview with the 'Daily News' at the just ended Nane Nane exhibitions at Nyamhongolo Grounds in Mwanza, the Serengeti District Agriculture Irrigation Officer, Mr Simion Waryuba said the plant could be built at home. Biogas refers to gas produced from organic matters.

It can be useful at home as a school project, institution and even at the hospital. "While agriculture remains the backbone of our economy, still, a number of farmers are not aware of the functions of agricultural resources surrounding them.

We are bringing this technology to them to have sustainable agro-business, which is interactive as well as integrated," Mr Waryuba says.

Biogas can also be produced by anaerobic digestion or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as biomass, manure, sewerage, municipal waste, green waste and energy crops.

Agro business can be used to increase production for both food security and income generation to farmers. "For example, the integration of livestock keeping and the use of biogas plant can help farmers improve horticultural crops by using drip irrigation system to raise crops through out the year.

The farmer will have an assurance of food security at household level," Mr Waryuba said. The plant can be built from waste from two cows and above depending on the purpose of the farmer.

"A farmer can use the plant as a source of energy for cooking, lighting, ironing where a biodigestor of 30 to 50 cubic meters can be used," he said.

Mr Waryuba said the energy produced by the system can be used to run an already motorised generator for electricity generation, following an ignition by petrol engine.

He named the products of the bio-digestor as bio slurry and gas (methane). He said the technology which varies in size and capacity is installed in the district where the farmers are supposed to pay for equipment.

He said a biogas plant at household level of 6 cubic meters may require four cows at a cost ranging from 900,000/- to 1.2m/- while a 9 cubic meter may need seven cows at a cost of 1.5m/- .

A 13 cubic meter plant requires ten cows and 1.7m/- to 2m/- depending on the size and requirements of a farmer. "And for an institution and hospital the requirement is twenty cows and 30 cubic meter, with the cost ranging from 30m/- to 50m/-", he said.

Another technology is the adoption of cassava 'Mkombozi' variety which withstands viruses. As for tomatoes, Mr Waryuba says production per plant increased from I kg to 3kgs in the same season.

On the environment, he said biogas controls environment degradation and can also be used for bee keeping "In bee keeping we get honey and its all products such as beeswax, bee polis, royal jelly and pollination," he said. Despite its economic potential and efforts made by the district, farmers are still facing a lot of challenges.

He mentioned them as inadequate supply of water at household level and low response of farmers to adopt technology. "The government has not yet located enough funds to support farmers in order to adopt improved farming technology," he said.

Population increase in the district, against the size of land is affecting both crop and livestock production and is another challenge.

He said in order to slow population growth so as to suit the size of land, people have to adopt the land use plan for sustainable development of the district and countrywide before long.

"By not doing so, the minority rich will misappropriate a large area of land and thus cause the majority to suffer land conflicts and disputes," he said.

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