Building the bio-digester market in Zambia

Building the bio-digester market in Zambia

SNV Zambia has trained 42 masons – men and women - in bio-digester construction, maintenance and marketing.

In addition, 8 bio-digesters have been constructed in Copperbelt, Lusaka, Western, Central and Southern provinces for demonstration. These achievements have laid the groundwork for SNV to commence developing a market for biogas in the country and to mark this decision, we organised a Biogas Field day event. The field day was held at Lusunga farm in Chilanga district (central Zambia) to demonstrate the possibilities of bio-digesters and biogas to government officials, cooperating partners, representatives from financial institutions and farmers in the area.

Bio-digester plants convert animal manure into combustible methane gas known as biogas. SNV is a leader in Biogas programming and has installed over 500,000 digesters across the world – primarily in Africa and Asia. Since January 2013, SNV Zambia has been working as part of a multi-country, public-private partnership to further the use of Biogas for Milk Chilling together with world leaders in the development of chillers: SimGas and Mueller BV who are developing a prototype milk chiller that will be ready for launch in 2015. The technology supports off-grid, smallholder dairy farmers who need to chill their milk overnight before delivering to the milk collection centres, and provides additional benefits in bio-slurry – an organic fertiliser that improves crop and fodder production, and also energy for lighting and cooking on-farm.

SNV has:

  • started working with financial institutions to support the possibility of developing financial products that can support farmers to procure bio-digesters and, ultimately, milk chillers;

  • partnered with the Dairy Association of Zambia and other players in the industry to promote the technology and ensure it is of the highest standards;

  • called upon cooperating partners to consider supporting the development of the biogas sector which will provide poor rural farmers with much needed energy that will enhance their productivity levels.

The possibilities of biogas are endless and Dr. Sue Ellis, SNV Zambia Country Director, emphasised this point: “Biogas can not only provide energy for milk chilling, but for piglet warming, production of heat for improved rearing of chicks, energy for hot water to improve milk collection and safety by sterilising milk collection and storing equipment, as well as the bio slurry that enhances agricultural production without further damaging and degrading the environment.”

About 40 dairy farmers are now in the process of signing contracts with masons to construct digesters and more are expected to visit the demo sites to witness the technology in action. The foundation for the biogas market has been set and can only grow with a dedicated and supportive multi-actor approach.

Photo credit: Russell Watkins, DFID.