SUSTAINABLE TEA PRODUCTION
RENEWABLE ENERGY TO THE TEA SECTOR IN KENYA
Tea is an energy intensive business, according to UNEP more energy is required to produce a kilo of tea than a kilo of steel. In the case of Kenya most of this energy is used in the withering and drying production process, whereby boilers are fed large volumes of firewood.
Many tea factories are now working to address the energy issue driven by price and environmental impact. Much of the firewood comes from commercial timber plantations but scarcity forces tea factories to transport fuel across long distances. This is a major sustainability challenge.
Tea is an important part of the Kenyan economy, generating over $1billion in export earnings in 2014. The majority (60%) of tea production comes from 66 factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) that provides management on behalf of the 600,000 farmer owners.
As energy is such a major and costly element of tea production - moving to a more sustainable fuel source represents an opportunity for saving both money and trees.
REPLACING FIREWOOD WITH BIOMASS BRIQUETTES
Biomass briquettes are made from agricultural residues such as sugar-cane waste, coffee husks, nut shells and sawdust. EnSo has been working to scale up the production of briquettes as a sustainable alternative to firewood.
We are delivering a 4-year project with Rainforest Alliance to help tea factories switch from firewood to briquettes as a way of reducing energy costs.
We don't just see this working for tea factories. In rural areas the majority of households still use firewood and charcoal for cooking - but working with our briquette production facility we plan to also provide domestic consumers with the opportunity to switch to fuel pellets burned in improved cookstoves.