Charles Onyoni Onyando–a farmer with NEFSALF (Nairobi and Environs Food Security, Agriculture, and Livestock Forum), picked up several briquettes made out of a mixture of paper, potato and banana peels, dry leaves, and newsprint, which he made at his home as he talked to us. “We have all these resources around us,” he said, “but no one knows how to use them.”
But Charles does. He collects organic waste from his neighbors, combines it with paper, and shreds it with a crank-powered shredder to form circular briquettes that are longer lasting—and more environmentally friendly—than charcoal.
Mr. Onyando didn’t build the perfect briquette right at first, but learned through a system of trial and error what combination of organic waste and water worked best to create the best burning briquette with the least amount of smoke. Each briquette he makes lasts from six to seven hours and produces the energy equivalent of seven kilowatts of electricity—enough to cook two kilograms of dried beans.
Mr. Onyando is both selling his briquettes and teaching other farmers how to make them. He’s been asked to hold workshops as far away as Cameroon and his project is getting attention from other communities in Kenya. And it’s paying off. It costs him about 400 Kenyan shillings (5.34 USD) to make one 70-80 kilogram bag, or 100-200 briquettes, which he sells for roughly twice what it cost him to make.