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Master of Agribusiness

Evaluating the Economic Feasibility of Anaerobic Digestion for Kawangware Market Waste

James Arati, Baldwin, Wis., defended his thesis, “Evaluating the Economic Feasibility of Anaerobic Digestion for Kawangware Market Waste,” Monday, November 2, 2009. Arati is an Agriculture Consultant with Arati & Associates International in Baldwin, Wis. He graduated from Kansas State University in December with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB).

Kawangware is an open-air market outside of Nairobi, Kenya. The fresh produce market generates more than 10 tons of fruit and vegetable waste each day. With landfill constraints and pollution concerns, new methods are being sought to dispose of this waste. Arati examined the economic feasibility of investing in an anaerobic digestion system to convert the produce waste to methane and fertilizer. Additionally, the project may qualify as a Clean Development Mechanism project for greenhouse gas reduction carbon credits.

“My main objective was to determine if it makes sense to invest in an anaerobic digestion system and convert the waste to methane and fertilizer,” Arati said. “And since Kenya is close to reaching its maximum electrical capacity available, I also wanted to find out if it would be economically feasible to burn the methane to generate electricity.”

Using Net Present Value Analysis techniques, he determined that production of methane and organic fertilizer would be economically feasible with or without carbon credits. Kawangware would benefit from the reduced waste in landfills and revenue generated from selling methane and fertilizer that could be produced. However, due to the small-scale of electricity produced, the use of a biodigester to produce electricity would not be economically advisable.

Jeff Williams, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Arati’s thesis advisor, said, “James conducted an interesting economic analysis of producing energy from food market waste in Kenya. The analysis is performed for small-scale energy production using a bio-digester at the local level. This is important in Kenya where disposal of food market waste is a significant problem and distribution of energy over a large geographic area from large energy production facilities is not feasible given current infrastructure.”

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food and agribusiness industry and are located in more than 35 states within the United States and in 25 countries.

“I have presented these results to the investors and residents of Kawangware Waste Utilization Initiative and they are actively seeking funding to purchase an anaerobic digestion system,” Arati said. “It is encouraging to put together a document that has helped in the decision to move forward with anaerobic waste disposal in Kenya.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on K-State’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/2200.