Assessing the challenges of adopting biogas technology in energy provision among dairy farmers in Nyeri County, Kenya
Wachera, Ruth Wanjiru
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About 90% of Kenya's rural population relies on wood fuel to meet their daily cooking energy needs. The consequences of over reliance on biomass energy are far reaching with adverse effects on the economic, social and environmental spheres of sustainability. Animals are an important source of food and income for many rural people, but their manure is a source of one of the world‟s most potent greenhouse gases. Turning manure into biogas, as an alternative source of energy has not being fully exploited in Kenya. The study aimed at assessing the challenges of adopting biogas technology in energy provision among dairy farmers. This study employed a descriptive research design: to determine the relative importance of cooking energy sources, to evaluate the impacts of biogas technology on households and assess the challenges facing households in the uptake of biogas technology. It also sought to establish the opportunities available in disseminating biogas technology. To achieve the above objectives, the study sampled 120 households and 7 key informants. Primary data were derived from field surveys using questionnaires, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Qualitative and quantitative data was descriptively analysed through descriptive statistic like frequencies, correlation coefficients, percentages and measures of central tendency such as means and mode were used to summarize and interpret the research findings. The results of the study show that primary cooking fuels were firewood (76.7%) and charcoal (6.7%). The results also revealed that only about 35.8% of the farmers are using biogas technology. On the impacts of biogas technology, about 88.4 % of the biogas users confirmed reduced household energy costs, over 83.7 % of the users noted reduced work load hence more free time, about 93% of the users indicated that cooking was more convenient while 9.3 % of the farmers confirmed increased income (mean of KES. 3500) from the sale of bio-slurry. In addition, majority of the biogas users made use of bio slurry as an organic fertiliser to maintain soil fertility. As the study indicates, dairy farmers faced challenges in the uptake of biogas technology. These challenges include high installation costs coupled with lack of credit facilities as well as absence of locally trained technicians. On the opportunities towards increasing the uptake of biogas technology among households, the study found that both public and private extensions agents were active involved in promoting biogas technology. However, they are faced with a myriad of setbacks such as poor promotional strategies and limited support by the government; inadequate funds, gender issues, ignorance and low level of awareness about biogas technology. The study concludes that the potential of biogas technology in energy provision is huge but it is poorly tapped. In order to unlock the huge potential of biogas technology, financial credit facilities should be made more accessible especially for the low income farmers, sustained and comprehensive educational and awareness creation on the use of biogas technologies should be enhanced and more efforts ought to be done in training biogas technicians at the local level. This calls for good partnership between public, private sector and civil society.