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  • Writer's pictureJags Pandhal

Microbial pre-treatment to valorise wastes in Kenya

Helen Wright

After a tense few weeks following the severe floods in Kenya, our long-awaited visit to Industry Collaborator, Sanergy, was finally able to go ahead. Over the last 12 months our expertise in fermentation processes has been helping Sanergy develop a process to get more feedstock value for producing Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL); a key food source for livestock in Kenya. Prof. Jags Pandhal,  Dr. James McGregor and I met up with Clifford and Ernest from Sanergy, along with their new Intern, Rebecca from Colorado, for an unforgettable trip through rural Machakos County.

This was our first visit to the company’s main facility where BSFL are reared on agricultural and food industry waste to produce high protein animal feed. The recent flooding has caused extensive damage to the county’s rural infrastructure and businesses, and turned what should have been a 60 minute drive to the facility into a 4 hour off-roading adventure! Clifford’s detailed tour of the site included seeing the various stages of rearing the larvae from eggs to mature larvae, and all of the of the industrial scale machinery used to process them into animal feed. The facility also makes several useful byproducts from the process, such as oils, fertiliser and fuel brickettes. Most importantly the visit gave excellent context for the fermentation process we are trying to develop with Sanergy, and the importance of where this fits into their business. The facility was affected significantly by the flood waters, so trying to get more value from their main source of income is now more vital than ever.

Seeing the main facility stoked various ideas for the fermentation development that were discussed in two in-depth workshops held at the Sanergy Main Office back in Nairobi the next day. Our trip also incorporated a visit to another exciting fermentation-based company in Nairobi called Essential, who use specialised biomass fermentation of food industry byproducts to make a high protein food supplement aimed at tackling malnutrition, especially in the children of Kenya. It was a truly humbling experience to meet Fe and Ignacious who are using science and industrial know-how to try and improve the lives of many thousands of people.

There was of course time for some safari fun in the Nairobi National Park where we saw a huge variety of wild animals including rhinos, giraffe and lions. We also had the absolute pleasure of visiting the Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust Animal Orphanage where we met Raha the baby rhino, and all 22 of her baby elephant friends. A real dream come true and an unforgettable experience!

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