Utilization of the geothermal resources for drying grains in Kenya
A new and very interesting project is in its initial phase and takes advantage of how Iceland has use geothermal energy for drying. The project is headed by Matís but in partnership with eothermal Development Company (GDC) in Kenya. The project receives funding from the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF).
The project overall objective is to market by demonstration the substitution of carbon releasing fuels with geothermal energy in drying of major food product in Kenya, namely maize (over 3 million tons annually) where oil is currently the major energy source. This, if adopted at commercial scale will contribute to the global reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and better control of the drying process.
The project will implement engineering knowledge gathered through years of experience in geothermal drying in Iceland to develop cost effective maize drying unit, and install a fully functional pilot unit in Menengai, Kenya. The change from using fossil fuels in the drying process will not only contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases but will also reduce the cost of drying and enhance the quality of dried products.
Maize is the biggest single grain product in Kenya with annual production of over 3 million tons. More than 75% of the local production is provided by small family farms. The Rift Valley accounts for around 70-80% of the national production ( (Kang’ethe, 2011) and (LandO’Lakes, 2013). The major food safety issues in regard to maize in Kenya are contamination with pesticide residues used in maize production and storage and fungal toxins contamination during the pre- and post- harvest period due to insufficient drying (Dudi, 2014).
At industrial level grains are usually dried using mechanical dryers. The mechanical drying processes uses oil/diesel operated dryers, which are considerably expensive energy sources and with high carbon footprint (42 kg CO2/ton product). By using geothermal energy this can be reduced by 95%.
Utilization of the geothermal resources for drying grains (mainly maize) is quite viable and is an opportunity to increase the quality of the product, reduce the carbon foot print and post-harvest losses as well as lowering the cost of drying. Private sector interests at investing in the geothermal technology are presently limited as knowledge and profitability of such an operation is not well understood. To demonstrate to stakeholders that such an undertaking is profitable it is necessary to establish a pilot dryer at Menengai. The pilot project will be used to demonstrate the technology and as a marketing tool to potential investors.
Consultation regarding fishing and processing in Tanzania
In autumn 2011 Matís signed a contract with the Tanzanian government regarding a project at Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. The project was funded by a loan from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) located in Helsinki. The project was tendered to Nordic companies of which Matís proved most capable.
Lake Tanganyika is among the largest freshwater lakes in the world, approximately nineteen thousand square kilometres in size. It is also the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, with fifteen hundred metres at its deepest. Four countries border the lake: Tanzania, Congo, Burundi and Zambia.
Tanzanians fish in Lake Tanganyika, but both fishing and processing are done with primitive methods. Matís’ task was, among other things, to assist with the development of methods that would improve the quality of the fish and increase its value.
Consultation and courses in Africa
Consultation and courses in foreign countries are among the projects that have been steadily growing at Matís. In the year 2011 a two-week course was held for the United Nations University Fisheries Training Program in Iceland and the Icelandic International Development Agency where fish inspectors were instructed in quality issues regarding the treatment of fish and fish products including food safety, legal and regulatory matters, fish processing methods, packaging and sampling. The course was organized and prepared in cooperation with local partners in order to secure the sustainability of the course.
Matís gave a similar course in Kenya 2008 and it is now incorporated in the curriculum at one of the country’s universities.