Rural farmers can increase the value of their crops ten-fold by using a new technology – Village industrial mobile power plant. The technology which was introduced in Kenya in 2016 uses agricultural waste as fuel; it has 10 Kw engine which creates thermal, electrical and mechanical energy to transform crops into high value products. VIP’s pilot power plants are currently on trial in East Africa.
The plant enables farmers shell 1 ton of maize in 2 hours for Ksh. 150 per bag. It thus reduces the chances of aflatoxin infection and improves the quality of maize. It also reduces unpredictable cost of manual labor used to dry maize in the sun.
“VIP’s mobile power plant unit is robust, reliable, and on demand, enabling farmers to process their own crops and participate directly in the value chain, VIP’s carbon neutral engine is fuel flexible, using waste such as maize cobs, coffee parchment, mango pits, and bagasse to supply thermal, electric, and mechanical power” says Maggie Flanagan, the company’s Vice President for Business Development.
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According to Maggie, the VIP engine is fuel flexible, clean burning, and able to run on numerous biomass feed stocks. The super-heated steam in turn produces heat that can be used to produce either hot air or hot water on demand for a wide range of agricultural applications. The VIP unit offers the lowest cost of electricity in its class. It’s designed to be robust and easily operated. Using only two wrenches, the engine can be disassembled and reassembled in an hour. It can be an economic engine of growth for rural development.
The Village Industrial Power Plant at the 2017 Nairobi International Trade Fair, Jamhuri grounds. PHOTO/JAPHET RUTO
In Kenya, VIP has set up a maize processing unit in western Kenya used to shell and dry maize. Properly dried maize allows farmers to get a better market price and store enough maize for personal consumption during the dry seasons.
The machine is also used in mango drying, small dairy processing, small scale sugar processing, fish drying, irrigation, pumping and purifying water.
Maggie Flanagan notes that farmers are free to have the plant tested on their farms for free to add value to their crops. “We have helped Kambiti East farmer’s group dry their mangoes for more profits” says Maggie.
“Since we started this project of drying mangoes, we have faced so many challenges, because when there is no enough heat from the sun, our mangoes get spoiled. Now with the VIP dryer, we can slice mangoes from 8:30 am to 2: 00 pm daily without worry, and the results are good unlike before” said Fridah Mbai, Vice Chairperson and Supervisor of Kambiti East Mango Growers Group.
Another farmer Raymond Kiprop, who is the owner of Raymond Agricultural Services, says he likes the technology because it is cost effective and cheaper to run it as you only need residues of the crop to generate power. “Another reason that I like this machine is the drying part where you now use the steam that is generated to dry your maize up to the required moisture level” adds Kiprop.