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Developing compost operation in Kenya  RSS feed

Evelyn Libal
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Mombo vipi permies? (swahili for what's up?) I am joining you from beautiful coastal kenya where my husband and I are developing a model permaculture compost production and demonstration garden in a severely underprivileged desertifying area right next to a struggling reef. We are trying to work out the financial and could really use some advice on how to bring these ideas to fruition because we have the potential to make a huge impact. I beg you to check out our model and some of the challenges we are trying to meet with permaculture in the developing world, I also suggest you look at the rest of the blog because we have some fun videos and crazy Kenya stories. Please, we are young and could use some of the experience and advise of your collective awesomeness THANK YOU!!!
Evelyn Libal
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Growing Futures wants to start a compost fertilizer program. We are creating a system that will increase sanitation in the city with organic matter pick up, increase farmer’s yield by improving their soil with compost fertilizer, and work towards educating people about carbon sequestering farming with our demonstration gardens. We are located ina quickly growing rural Mombasa area. This area is located near urban areas with large garbage generation and ready market for local vegetables. There are many farmers in this area that would like to make more from their farms though right now most people are unemployed and suffer hunger and malnutrition. The increase in population and slash and burn bare soil agriculture has a profound effect on the reef and all of the ecosystem services the reef provides. We would like to influence the development of this area into the sustainable, food producing suburbs by starting a composting business and demonstration garden. Our business goal is for as many people as possible to make enough rather than one person to make a lot and to empower and educate other people to create their own business. For upfront capitol and 3 months of operating costs until compost is ready will be US$11,000. The return on investment from only the compost profits will be 1.5 years. Given that we can make a successful model we would like to make more sites.
The beneficiaries are:
• Public Sanitation- Organic matter disposal by compost will create a more hygienic market area and dumping sites (most dumps are open and near water sources and they are gross, horrendously gross)
• Consumers and sellers- local non-fossil fuel dependant food supply will aid in stabilizing price
• Farmers- access the high quality, soil building compost fertilizer and ideas on permaculture farming from our demonstration garden. Costal farmers are FAR behind the rest of Kenya in crop production and fertilizer application (8% in coast compared to 76% national average). We are also in a semi-arid area so to water holding potential of compost and permaculture water management ideas are very important. Our market is small farmers with less than 5 acres.
• New Florida area- there is currently no reliable employment in this area. By employing 4 other people at a high wage (500ksh/day which is what many people live on all week, or for example a security guard makes 380ksh for a 12 hour work day) and each employee supports around 10 other people our impact reaches upwards of 40 people. We also will be developing local infrastructure (to save money on fixing our vehicle and be able to reach the market to pick up garbage even after a rain we will make improvements to the road)(when someone clears a large area for their farm instead of paying someone to carry the material we will pay them to clear a road which we can then transport material). We also keep money local when farmers buy our compost instead of paying a large corporation for chemical fertilizer and when people in town buy local vegetables instead of vegetables from across the country.
• Fisherman and the reef- demonstration gardens of conservation farming to reduce erosion and run-off damaging the reef
• The future- compost fertilizer is a carbon sequestering form of farming where as conventional agriculture is very carbon intensive and depletes the soil of carbon. This area is already severely food insecure with highly infertile soil.
Benefits of compost
• Increase soil structure (reduce run-off and flooding, easier to dig, facilitate root growth, current soil approximates cement)
• Increase water holding capacity (important in a semi-arid environment)
• Increase nutrient retention and cation exchange capacity(plants ability to use nutrients)
• Micronutrients as well as macronutrients
• Beneficial microfauna increase plant disease resistance and increase nutrient availability
• Carbon sequestering farming to develop as the normal
• Kills harmful bacteria present in raw manure

• 3 people to cut and carry 30 bags of carbon rich material (500ksh/person or US$5.90) *they may decide to split this work between more people so they can have days off* *this money will flow out to a lot, at least 40, dependants*
• Myself to build the piles and care for demonstration garden (500ksh/day US$5.90)
• Jey to bring the waste organic matter (500ksh/day US$5.90)
• 1 person turn compost pile (500ksh/day US$5.90)
• With the profit we will invest in the farm building terraces, our earth ship, water catchment, water management(this is really important because we get floods that go through our vegetable garden that contain raw human sewage because of lack of toilets this water needs to be diverted and controlled) and other projects that will employ many other people.

Cost analysis for the first 3 months 915,500ksh or US$10,770
• Employees- 270,000ksh US$3,176
o 6 employees at 500ksh/day= 3,000ksh or US$35.30
o Small costs covered by the 500 Jey and I get
o For the first 3 months no income 3,000ksh/day x 90 days
• Gas(estimate) 400ksh (4L)= 400ksh/day x 90 days= 36,000ksh US$425
• Upfront capitol 645,500ksh US$7,594
o Water Well total 115,500 ksh (water compost as well as irrigation for dry season production)
 Bricks 36,000ksh
 30,000ksh cement
 10,000ksh sand
 3,500 transport
 8,000 cover
 Labor to dig 20,000
 Labor to build 8,000
o Solar pump 40,000ksh or 2,000ksh for bike rope pump
o Water tank 40,000ksh or less for a smaller barrel
o 3 wheel diesel motorcycle truck 450,000ksh

• Yield
o 20 bags waste organic matter+30 bags high carbon material=16 bags or 4m^3 finished compost
o 1 bag to be sold at 300ksh x 16 bags daily = 4,800ksh/day
o 1,800ksh compost only profit/day for payback of investment in 1.5 years
o This is in addition to 600ksh/day from eggs (chickens eat free from coconut, grubs, and vegetables from the market), 500ksh goat milk (goats eat from the 30 bags of C and add fertilizer to the compost), and from farm vegetables payback from total farm yields (-vegetables) is about 10 months
Compare price with fertilizer
Commercial fertilizer with micronutrients is 5,500 Ksh for 50 kgs that will cover ½ acre or 11,000ksh/acre
At an application rate of 8 m^3 compost/acre and 1m^3 compost at 1,200ksh it costs 9,600ksh (until we can test our compost we only have an estimate of application rate of 20 to 25 m^3/ha)
o Increase earnings by making special compost with additions of fish and biochar, we need soil testing
o Fuel our transportation with coconut biofuel.
o This may not be a better price/liter to conventional diesel however it has other benefits
 Increase farm income for a lot of small farmers (compost customers)
 Give farmers the idea and experience to make on farm fuels
 Coconut coir for compost
 Glycerin for soap
Chicken and dog food
 Carbon neutral fuel
o This will require
 Lye
 Methanol
 Containers
 Scale
 Measuring equipment
 Bike blender
 Experimentation
 Finding reliable employees (hopefully good pay will incentivize doing a good job)
 Uncertainty about market (no one else is doing it here)
 Unreliable quality of goods (fortunately compost isn’t very high maintenance)
 Evelyn’s visa problems
 Need to figure out registration with government for our business/project
Land title deed
 Flooding and inaccessible roads

Farm yields in a 10mx50m area according to this cropping scheme.
• These yield estimates are directly from the experiences of my neighbors and myself. Our high yields are based on the high yielding plants of conventional bare soil, synthetic fertilizer (or nothing) plantings in our pathetic soil.
• These are estimates for10mx10m plots or 30feetx30feet
• After we have actually done this we will update our numbers. We want to put together a picture packet so when people buy our compost they will get recommendations for sustainable farming practices as well as seeing them on our demonstration garden and how the financials of having a farm work out.
Initial investment for a 10x10 plot includes
• Clearing the space for 200ksh (2xmarket value but uneducated people need to eat too)
• 2m3 compost which will be a layer of 2cm compost (this is the price we would sell our compost)=2,400ksh
• 10 bags mulch at 50ksh/bag for a 5cm layer mulch=500ksh
• Water 2x at 500ksh to water (with good mulch and timing with the rain this isn’t necessary but is included anyway because the rains are unpredictable)= 1,000ksh
Upfront cost for 10mx10m is 4,100ksh *some crops need to be sprayed this is calculated below.
This would be on a 6 month cycle with 6 months (dry season) cassava and cowpeas and 6 months (rainy season) other crops. Digging the cassava incorporates the green cow pea mulch and old compost into the soil. There would be 2 applications of compost and mulch/ year.

Cassava spaced at 1/m^2 100 plants for 6 months to maturity and is planted 2 months before the dry season (in 5 months I will be able to fill this in with real numbers, these are just estimates)
Low 50ksh/plant for 5,000ksh
High 500ksh/plant for 50,000ksh
Average 27,500ksh
Total expense=4,100ksh
Net income=23,400ksh
Cow peas- Intercropped with cassava, harvested once then left as cover crop sewn every 4inches^2 for 8,100 plants
Low yield .5ksh/plant=4,050ksh
High yield 1.5ksh/plant=12,150ksh
Average= 8,100ksh (our cowpeas have wide spacing and we are eating all our cowpeas this cycle)
Total expense=4,100ksh
Net income = 4,000ksh
For this year we have planted about 10mx50m with cassava and cow peas. We are expecting 29,500ksh in 5 months. We can update this number when we harvest. This is also intercropped with pigeon peas pruned to feed the goats and sun hemp. The cow pea leaves are harvested while pigeon peas are growing then become the groundcover.
Estimate for 6 month=27,400kshx5=average 137,000ksh or US$1,611
High 269,750ksh or US$3,173
Low 4250ksh

The next 6 months follow.

Tomatoes spaces at 1 square foot/tomato would be 900 tomato plants
Wholesale tomato price is around 3ksh/tomato
Low yield at 2 tomatoes/ plant= 1,800 tomatoes or 5,400 ksh
High yield is 15 tomatoes/plant=13,500 tomatoes or 40,500ksh
Average income 22,950ksh
Tomatoes will need to be sprayed my neighbor sprays at 300ksh/week for 24 weeks (I think this is too much but I don’t have experience here)= 7,200ksh
Total Expenses=11,300ksh
Net income= 11,650ksh
Carrot every 3 inches for 14,000 plants
Low 1ksh/carrot= 14,000ksh
High 5ksh/carrot= 70,000ksh
Average= 42,000ksh
So far the carrots have no problems.
Total expenses 4,100ksh
Net income 37,900ksh
. Tomatoes at 2 ft^2 intercropped with carrots at 3in^2 in a 10x20m^2 at the beginning of the next rainy season for a projected expense of 15,400ksh and yield of 49,550ksh net average 49,550ksh or US$582
Low 8,100ksh
High 99,200ksh

Okra plants are spaced at 1.5 ft for 400 plants
sell at 1ksh/okra
Low yield is 3 okra/plant for 3ksh/plant x 4 weeks= 12ksh/plant or 4,800ksh
High yield is 11/plant for 11ksh/plant x 4weeks= 44ksh/plant or 17,600ksh
Average 11,200ksh
Okra needs to be sprayed. 300ksh/week for 24 weeks= 7,200ksh
Total expense 11,300ksh
Net income -100ksh. This will be grown in a 10x10 area and hopefully our method will earn money
Low -2,400ksh
High 10,400ksh

Skuma (collards) plants spaced at ½ foot for 3,600 plants
Low yield is .25ksh/plant=900kshx12weeks= 10,800ksh
High yield is 1.5ksh/plant=5,400kshx12weeks=64,800ksh
Average 37,800 ksh
Skuma needs to be sprayed 300ksh/week for 24 weeks=7,200ksh
Total expense 11,300ksh
Net income=26,500ksh
Low- 500
High 53,500

Papaya spaced at 1.5/m^2 is 40 plants
Low is 2 10ksh papaya/plant=8,000ksh
High is 15 20ksh papaya/plant=12,000ksh
Average 10,000 ksh
In our limited experience we have not needed to spray. 10x20m area already planted and hopefully will be ready in 11 months
Total expense 4,100 ksh
Net income 5,900
Skuma will be grown under the papaya in a 10x20 area this will yield approximately 75,600ksh or US$889
Low 6,800
High Ksh 122,800

Low 21,550ksh
High 502,150 ksh or US$ 5,907
Conservative year estimates are 262,150ksh or US$3,084. This comes out to 718ksh/day. All of this will be updated at harvest.
Ken Peavey
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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The Indiegogo Campaign for Growing Futures Compost.
Evelyn Libal
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Whoa, Ken you are good. Thank you so much for linking that!
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