Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Africa is ripe for Biomass

[Nairobi, Kenya]
WELL, I'M back on the blogging scene...sort of. While I've been absent from cyber space off and on for a multitude of reasons (lousy Internet access, getting burnt out from writing, political "challenges", etc.) my interests have shifted to investigating/researching things (producing electricity via biomass/biodiesel, ecobuilding with hemp, building durable roads with cheap termite technology, etc.) where the outcome could have huge implications for East African society.

Money doe$ grow on tree$...
Although a good living can be made from growing cannabis, coca leaves, opium and other "controversial" crops, an increasing number of farmers around the world - especially Africa - are seeking economic prosperity via biomass/biodiesel crops. :-) This, to me, is exciting because so many positive benefits arise from this act. Here are just a few of those benefits taken from a business plan that I wrote recently for
a dear Kenyan friend of mine regarding an upcoming green farming initiative:

Promotes Self Sufficiency
MGO is keen to assist rural communities in becoming self sufficient. This can be achieved by growing energy crops that can provide biodiesel/biomass to power engines or generate electricity. Money will be saved from buying expensive oil imports, and by reducing dependency from an unreliable electrical grid. This is already happening in some rural communities in India where regional economies are flourishing. For example, the waste from jatropha biodiesel extraction can be used to create soaps, dyes, organic fertilizer, rodent repellent, and a host of other beneficial products. Also, a cheap efficient water treatment solution is readily available from the seeds of the nutritious moringa oliefera plant. This solution is comparable to expensive unnatural alternatives, and allows the community to save on precious foreign exchange.

Another road to self sufficiency is by encouraging cassava farming. It should be noted that there has never been a famine in West Africa because of cassava’s durable drought resistant personality. This is unlike maize here in East Africa, which requires ample rainfall. A perfect example of too much dependency on maize took place in 2005 where severe droughts in Kenya lead to rampant food shortages in rural communities. This resulted in the needless deaths of many people, and precious livestock. However, if farmers had planted an alternative crop like cassava at that time, there would have been minimal to zero deaths from starvation. Thus a reliable supply of cassava translates into a better staple food option that can feed the masses in times of famine.

Better Land Utilization
We know that it’s deplorable to substitute rich, fertile land for growing food with biomass/biodiesel plants. However, a better policy involves promoting energy crops that thrive in arid to semi-arid regions. This is a win/win situation for society and creates the possibility that this unusable land will be rejuvenated in the future due to the positive effects (alleviates soil degradation, desertification and deforestation) of plants like jatropha, pongamia and moringa. Executing this strategy is a top priority for MGO.

Job Creation
Without a doubt, numerous long term direct and indirect jobs will be created once MGO’s green farming solutions are implemented everywhere – especially in depressed rural communities. These new crops will provide a means to create a vibrant eco-friendly economy that will cater to a large untapped domestic market. Additional employment will be created in order to meet the demand for biodiesel, moringa, cassava flour and a host of other products derived from executing green farming strategies.

For example, new jobs will be created for transporters, local farmers and laborers by encouraging the production of the West African staple food,
gari, which is cassava-based. This will inject much needed currency into the local market while improving the quality of life in areas where production takes place. Most importantly, one of MGO’s stated objectives is to “create jobs in poor and rural areas.” Unquestionably, this will result in reduced criminal activity in over-populated urban centers since the rationale to move from economically stagnant rural communities is diminished.

Thanks HASH...
After peeking the blog of my good Net pal, WhiteAfrican (aka Rick Hersman, aka HASH), I was motivated to write this piece for Money Talk, which is headed by my other good Net pal, Tosin (aka T). Let's just say HASH is one of the most Net-savvy dudes I've ever met. He eat, sleeps, drinks, and thinks web/mobile technologies/applications 365/24/7.

Most importantly, he's focused on making them work for Africa and he, somehow, always seems to be dialed into kool events/conferences or happenings relating to anything and everything to do with Africa, technology and the Net. Sometimes I'm amazed at how quickly he generates content on all his web endeavours. Yo HASH, sloooow down dude! :-)


Anyhow, I saw the above AfriGadget link in the widget section of HASH's blog and so, being a prolific Internet Whore, I clicked it. :-) I urge you all to take a peek too. BTW, HASH is one of the resident editors at AfriGadget, which is simply "a website dedicated to showcasing African ingenuity."

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2 comments:

hash said...

Are my eyes deceiving me, or is Max really back in the blogosphere!? :)

Where are you at my friend? Email incoming...

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