Solar-Powered Milk Cooling Stations
Working with the county government of Tana River County Government and the European Union (EU), Techwin Limited constructed two mini milk cooling plants located in Garsen and Bangale Wards.
These two solar-powered milk cooling stations targeted the local milk production that prior to this had been going bad due to lack of electricity thus will be used to collect milk, weigh and report, bulk for several days, and chill till it is collected by the processor.
According to the area’s County Director of Livestock Production, Nzioka Wambua, the objective of the cooling plants project is to contribute to the local economic development of the rural regions of Garsen and Bangale by improving the incomes of dairy farmers in the Tana River County.
In their policy brief dated 2021-2022, the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) indicated that the dairy sector is currently generating 12% of the agricultural GDP. Considering the underlying potential in the sector, sustainable methods are required to improve the output and the economic contribution.
In their report, named Exploring Kenya Dairy Industry for Job Creation for the Youth, KIPPRA also mentions that the dairy value chain alone is able to provide about 700,000 jobs since more than 80% of producers are small-scale farmers.
Techwin Limited having worked with numerous dairy cooperatives understand the challenges that most dairy farmers and SMEs face ranging from lack of information on the modern methods of farming to lack of public amenities such as electricity. This gap has led to a lot of research on incorporating renewable energy such as solar in the processing plants. This led to the technology used in the fully solar-powered milk cooling stations in the Tana River project. For ease of processing, Techwin has also incorporated Suntech solar water heating solutions to limit the use of electricity for all the hot water needs in the processing plants. For cooperatives that can access firewood, Techwin designs firewood-run boilers that power the milk pasteurizers thus ensuring even remote cooperatives and dairy SMEs can achieve value addition.
For Tana River, Mr. Nzioka Wambua believes that with these solar-powered coolers, they will achieve an increase of up to 50 percent in the quantity of milk collected and sold from the Tana River County.
With the introduction of coolers in these areas, the farmers will reduce losses that were caused by spoilage thus increasing the shelf–life, and quality of milk from the Tana River. Because of the distance between the farms, the existing two milk collection centers, Satellite stationed at Boka in the Northern Sub-county of Tana and Tarassa in Tana Delta Sub–the county will hold the raw milk before it is transported to these main solar-powered cooling stations.
“The growth of our dairy industry relies on finding innovative solutions to the existing problems considering that 80% of dairy farmers are in the rural parts of Kenya. Sustainability is a long-term game.,’’ Eng. John Muchemi Director Projects Techwin Limited.