Agricultural waste, the new gold?

The global population is expected to reach 9.9 billion by 2050 according to 2020 World Population Data Sheet and half of this population will be from the African continent, whose majority of its population comprises of youth. In spite of this promising generation, unemployment is still a menace as hundreds of graduates do not enter the workforce.

The agricultural sector presents a lot of opportunities for the youth however,  food loss and waste management are some of the challenges in the value chain. In most cases biowaste accounts for two to five times the quantity of produce sold in the sector. There is a glimpse of hope with youth emerging as new entrants and developing solutions in the food value chain. Stakeholders therefore need to support emerging agri-techs as funding remains a challenge to scale up their production. 

Additionally, there is a need to increase dissemination of waste management techniques as well as including it as a key component in the school curriculum. Lastly, as global leaders and other key stakeholders convene in Egypt for theCOP27conference, it is important they champion for increased reliance on renewable energy and promote a circular economy.

These 4 GoGettaz are leading by example:

Cupmena Egypt

Throwing away this precious natural resource that still has broad and significant value and applications across several industries is a superfluous act of consumption that perfectly demonstrates the take, make, dispose of the approach of our current linear economic structure.
Sure, low volumes of spent coffee grounds can be great for fertilizing domestic gardens. Still, until the past few years, coffee grounds have been largely overlooked as a valid, sustainable resource on an industrial scale, especially in the MENA region and Asia. If coffee grounds are recycled, however, valuable organic matter and nutrients can be recaptured for use as soil fertilizers, Mushroom growers, conditioners, mulch, and methane can be captured for electricity generation. Thus, We will help the environment to get out of the spent coffee ground effects and exploit it to support the food system and stop the sequence of exploiting the resources.

 

A regular “catch-up” meeting by two friends birthed a business idea of recycling spent “coffee ground” into fertilizer which is mostly being used to grow mushrooms in Egypt. Mohammed Abdelgawad while enjoying coffee in the company of his friend Abdulrhaman Elhalafawy one day asked the barista what happens to spent ‘coffee ground’, which is the residue obtained after brewing coffee. The response they received was the beginning of a research journey on waste management and this is how ‘Cupmena’, an Agritech and waste management startup in Egypt was formed by Abdelgawad, Elhalafawy and Mahmoud Tohamy.

Globally, an estimated 9 million tonnes of ground coffee are brewed annually and approximately 18 million tonnes of spent coffee ground is discarded as left over, deposited in landfills and left to decompose. During decomposition, the coffee ground emits methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Cupmena therefore enables processors and farmers to generate additional revenue from waste which is converted to fertilizers and used to grow mushrooms.

Cupmena is one of the many upcoming ag-tech companies led by entrepreneurs from different African countries who are transforming food systems through innovative technologies with an aim of reducing food losses and managing waste along the food value chain.

Solaristique Nigeria Nigeria

we recycle old freezers and refrigerators into solar-powered coolers/freezers. Our solar cooler/freezers are helping to reduce Nigeria’s food losses and waste. Our solar freezers help to provide constant cold storage 24/7 in any part of the country. The Solar coolers are double-chambered, Making it possible to last for days without adequate Sunlight. This makes them ideal for off-grid applications. It also Uses a solar Business system that makes it run without battery backup. This makes our products 50% cheaper than other solar freezers. Our latest model Ayogu is a detachable tricycle Mobile solar freezer. Specially made for cooling of drinks, dairy products, etc en route to market, stall, or homes. Once at the destination the freezer and the solar panel can easily be detached from the tricycle. This prototype model is a 150 Litre capacity and can be scaled up to 1000 liters capacity. It is totally solar-powered and works with little or no battery backup.

 

Perturbed by high food losses in Nigeria as a result of insufficient production of value-addition products and limited access to funding opportunities by farmers from formal financial institutions are some of the major drivers that led Idoko Nnaedozie to start Solaristique. This is a recycling company in Nigeria that turns old freezers into solar refrigerators, promoting use of clean energy at a low cost because of little consumption of power. The solar freezers are fitted with a double chamber design that enables it to maintain its cooling capacity for 3 days hence reducing post harvest agricultural losses as well as promoting use of renewable energy in Nigeria.


Hya Bioplastics Uganda

Creating biodegradable packaging from re-engineered plant fibers! We have developed an innovative and patent-pending process that re-engineers plant fibers to produce bioplastics. Our technology is able to produce various forms of 100% biodegradable products that can be used in various applications including food packaging, consumer products, and construction materials.

Plastic pollution is another environmental challenge which is still a menace in most African countries. Governments in an attempt to provide a solution, banned usage of plastics as well as adding high levies on these products. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), approximately 7 billion out of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced between 1950-2017 ended up in landfills, altering habitats and reducing ecosystem ability to adapt to climate change. In the food system, plastics constitute most of the food packages available in the market and unfortunately, they find themselves in the environment through poor waste disposal which negatively impacts the environment because it takes longer to degrade. In order to address this problem, Mark Musinguzi the founder Hya Bioplastics in Uganda and winner of the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize 2022, received accolades for manufacturing biodegradable fruit and vegetables trays that are currently being used by some retailers while serving their clients in the food industry. Some of the agricultural waste materials used to make biodegradable food packages include: sugarcane bagasse, corn stover, banana stems and sawdust which generate additional income to farmers as well as processors.

LONO Côte d'Ivoire

LONO is a clean technology start-up providing products and services for waste-to-energy. We have developed an innovative product called KubeKo. KubeKo is a solar powered bin that converts organic waste into compost and biogas. With our new acquisition model, we make this tech solution affordable for our target group with a relatively low purchasing power; households, cooperatives and SMEs in rural areas of West Africa.

 

Kubeko’ is a low-cost bio waste processing portable equipment that allows smallholder farmers in Ivory Coast generate additional income from their agricultural waste products and use it to produce compost and biogas which is commonly used as fertilizer and an alternative source of energy respectively. Five kilograms of waste can be equated to two hours of cooking gas and 50 litres of liquid compost. Instead of farmers purchasing fertilizers, they can produce it  for themselves hence save money.

Kubeko has been developed by Noël N’guessan, Co-Founder LONO and 2022 GoGettaz finalist under Impact Category. N’guessan is also a recipient of the Newton Fund (2021) and Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation (2021). Noël N’guessan and his team are now keen on making Kubeko more affordable by reducing its production costs and extending its reach to other African countries.