We are proud of Cohort 1

Dr. Anncarol Karanja
Biodigesters and biocatalysts
My solution comprises two products; biodigesters and biocatalysts. Biodigesters prevent septic-tanks and pit-latrines from filling up quickly and overflowing. Biocatalysts facilitate rapid conversion of waste into high quality biofertilizers or biofuel. Most developing countries including Kenya use septic-tanks and pit-latrines to dispose waste due to lack of sewerage-systems. Cost of emptying these facilities is prohibitively high causing some people to drain sewage into rivers and walk-ways. This creates public-health risks and reduces amount of water available for domestic, industrial and agricultural use. Accumulation of solid-waste in cities is unsightly and a threat to public-health while burning it leads to respiratory diseases and climate change. Disposing waste in dumping sites fills-up available space creating land scarcity. Biodigesters eliminate the need for hiring expensive exhauster services while biocatalysts allow value addition of the abundant, locally available waste into bio-fertilizer or biofuel. The products are organic, eco-friendly and don’t harm the user like chemical-based products.
Dr. Duncan Onyango Mbuge
Compact Crop Solar Drier and Silo
The hybrid solar / desiccant drier is at the top of the system to collect maximum solar energy and for ease of movement from one silo to the next. The drier concentrates solar energy to heat incoming air, that is drawn into the system using a fan. The fan is driven by a small solar PV module and motorcycle battery. To optimize the heating efficiency, the drier has a metal plate to receive the concentrated heat at the top and fins on the underside to efficiently release the heat to the incoming air. There is a pipe to deliver heated, dry air to the bottom of the silo where there is plenum chamber to distribute the air evenly across the silo diameter. The hot dry air then rises up picking moisture from the wet grain. At the top of the grain column, there are several air exit points that lead to chutes lined with the desiccant (food grade super absorbent polymer - SAP). The air that now has a high moisture content but is still relatively hot is passed through the desiccant to remove the moisture and is led back to the solar collector. In the solar collector, it is reheated and pushed through the grain once again. This process continues both during day and night. This concerted drying effort ensures complete drying within three days depending on the initial grain moisture content and prevailing weather conditions. Once the grain is dry, the drier is moved to the next silo and the silo with the dried grain is closed with a tight lid to ensure hermetic storage that keeps out moisture and pests. Whenever required, the drier can be brought back for fumigation or aeration.
Dr. Mbugua Wachira Gerald
Defluoridation: a new technique
The existing techniques used for defluoridation are not ecofriendly, have operational problems while others use costly materials. This leds to increased consuption of fluoridated water especially among the climate Vanurable communities. The current project modifies polyethylene wastes and fabricates the product to small and medium sized containers that help reduce the poisonous ion from contaminated water. Water sampled from Lake Baringo indicate a fluoride concentration of 2.5 mg/l. The modified containers are capable of reducing the concentration to 1.5 mg/l. This is the recommended level by the World Health Organisation. Further work indicate that the containers can also be used to remove bacteria and heavy metals from contaminated water. The project is not only reducing the level of fluoride from unsafe drinking water but also help curb the exisiting environmental menace caused by the non- biodegradable polyethylene wastes.
Prof. Paul Nthakanio
Bio-based fertilizer
Bio-based fertilizer. It is nutritive fertilizer make from agricultural waste. Novelty, is the ability in enhancing plants immunity against nematodes.
Prof. Paul Kimurto
Mwangaza and Ndovu groundnuts varieties
Two new varieties of groundnuts have been developed with good roasting and butternut content (Mwangaza and Ndovu) and which need to be upscaled through seed systems, branding and market linkages, including quality standards mainly Aflotoxin analysis both in farms and market. The Post-harvest handling is still a challenge since we need shellers and planting equipment to upscale and fully commercialize the innovation
Mr. Peter Kibet Kirui
The Aflasafe KE01TM technology
"Aflatoxin is highly prevalent in the country, contaminating up to 65% of the country’s maize and groundnut crops. In 2010, over 2.3 million bags of maize from various parts of Eastern Kenya were found to be contaminated with high levels of aflatoxins, leading to condemnation of the produce. Destruction of the contaminated grain cost the government over 70 million shillings. In 2014, the Government spent KES 82 million to destroy 150,000 bags of maize after efforts to sensitize communities on postharvest requirements had been diffused. Due to the serious negative impacts of aflatoxins on food security, health and trade, sustainable solutions to the menace are a great necessity. The Aflasafe KE01TM technology is a biological control approach in which strains of Aspergillus flavus that do not produce toxins (atoxigenic strains) have been formulated into a product that is applied around the flowering stage of maize in order to outcompete the poison-producing fungi. Aflasafe KE reduces aflatoxin in maize and groundnut by 80% to 100%, down to levels that are safe to consume. These dramatic toxin reductions apply from the moment food is harvested all the way until it is eaten. This is because the friendly Aflasafe fungi stay within the food and continue to protect it, even for example if it is stored somewhere warm and humid that would usually give toxigenic fungi conditions, they need to produce aflatoxins The product is manufactured by KALRO at its manufacturing plant in KALRO - Katumani, Machakos. There are numerous challenges that have prevented the uptake of Aflasafe as a biological control product. Key among them is low awareness and cost of Aflasafe. Currently, there is a strategy focusing on awareness and marketing of Aflasafe. In the manufacturing of Aflasafe, sorghum is the most important raw material since it contributes up to 70% of the product cost. The Aflasafe team is evaluating alternative carriers which are maize waste, maize cobs and manure, which could significantly reduce production costs. Moreover this could reduce costs to the farmers and have an overall positive impact and increase Aflasafe treated land from 40,000 acres to upto 500,000 acres. The course will have a significant impact to the Aflasafe team and staff as we focus on the improvement of the Aflasafe and further commercialization efforts."
Prof. Romano Mwirichia Kachiuru
Environmentally friendly, safe alternatives to the synthetic chemicals for control of several pathogens
Crop diseases caused by microorganisms lead to annual loses of over 25% of world’s crop production. This not only causes huge financial loses but can lead to famines and starvation. Over the years, different synthetic compounds and their formulations have been used to manage various plant diseases and crop pests. However, these chemicals have low specificity, poorly biodegradability and tendency to select for resistant pathogen populations. Climate change, increased demand for agricultural land and limitations of current plant protection products can contribute to emergence of new plant diseases or increased severity of existing diseases. Therefore, there is a need for alternative environmentally friendly pest and disease control strategies. We have a isolated, tested and proven the efficacy of several biocontrol agents that can be used as environmentally friendly, safe alternatives to the synthetic chemicals for control of several pathogens (e.g Ralstonia solanacearum, Alternaria spp., Phytopthora infestans, Fusarium spp. and Botrytis cinerea) in horticultural farming systems. The remaining step is formulation, field testing, registration and market.
Dr. Rose Ramkat
Commercialisation of edible food preservatives
Commercialisation of edible food preservatives