A section of farmers in Busia are making calcium rich powder from crushed eggs shells they are selling to locals as an additive to foods, a venture that is returning over Sh70,000 daily and appear headed even higher if the local demand is anything to go by. The farmer group, Shadati Farmer organization chanced on the shells after a researcher from Uganda introduced them to the now booming business in Uganda through the now deeply entrenched inter boundary trade in Malaba border.
The rise in poultry farming in the area has been a boon to the farmers ' group who get the shells from households, shops and hotels. Egg shells are known to contain high levels of calcium, necessary to strengthen bones and reduce the chances of Osteoporosis, a disease of the bones that leads to an increased risk of fracture.
The calcium in the shells is particularly beneficial because they contain other nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin D that help the body use calcium. The farmers crush the shells into powder before mixing it with into honey to add taste. The powder is either administered orally or sprinkled in food to add that nutritional aspect. And already the farmers have secured a modest building which they have transformed into a value addition plant and are now producing upto 100 kilos of the shell powder daily which are packed into 400 gram tins. One such tin goes for Sh1500.
In a day the group sells over 40 such tins. “Demand has been rising so much especially after the demonstrations that we carry in the markets. We are actually struggling to get the egg shells and are now buying them from households as an incentive,”said Alphonse Wekesa the group's chairman. One egg shell with the two broken ends goes for Sh10. The group's biggest customers are the nutritional centers, schools, hotels and schools for the aged. “They either sprinkle it in their foods, or it is administered orally,”said Wekesa.
Nutritionists in the area have given the powder a clean bill of health with science showing that egg shells have unparalleled calcium content. “Its what we use to feed most malnourished children here since some of the drugs and supplements are unbearably high and we are on a shoe string budget,”said Agnes Bitutu a nurse at Fedha nutritional home in Busia.
The farmer's group having now experienced the endless market opportunities for the shells are now exploring other value addition ventures like testing them with different flavours. “This is especially to entice kids who needs calcium for strong bones,”said Kantaria Wima a scientists working with the farmers.