15th August 2011
The Centre for Agriculture Mechanisation and Rural Technology (Camartec) has appealed for more government budget allocation to boost biogas production that could help many power users cope with the current energy crisis.
Biogas which is pollution-free and clean gas is seen as an option for rural and peri-urban low and medium income earners as it can easily produce energy for their daily domestic needs, such as cooking, heating and lighting.
Camartec is implementing biogas project across the country, and so far a total of 12,000 biogas plants are to be constructed under the first phase of the project set to cost euro 16 million to completion 2013.
“But budget constraints remained a challenge to spread the biogas technology across Tanzania especially for rural-based communities,” Camartec director general Evarist Ng'wandu said.
Speaking to media practitioners here recently, engineer Ng’wandu stressed the need to allocate more financial resources in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing.
“This will help to boost the biogas sector in Tanzania which is affordable and simple in rural and peri-urban households,” he said.
The official noted that despite its economic and environmental significance, the 29-year-old centre is constrained with a number of challenges, one being shortage of funds.
Camartec is responsible for carrying-out different researches as well as promoting improved household stoves, community stoves, biogas and solar energy facilities, he noted.
“But all these couldn’t be reached if there are no funds to accomplish all these responsibilities,” he said.
“Our centre has increased services to 11 regions and managed to train technicians to install over 500 biogas plants in those areas,” Ng’wandu said
He added that agriculture alone will not succeed without industrial development; hence the need to allocate more funds in the sector remained crucial.
He however commended government efforts in developing biogas technology, whereby in five-years between 2007 and 2013, the centre plans to install about 12,000 biogas plants across the country.
Started in 1982, the centre was meant to produce and disseminate agricultural implements such as harrow planters, nutshells, oil press machines, wheelbarrows, pulling and oxen carts, water harvesting tanks and brick making tools.
Among other things, Camartec also pioneered to develop biogas technology, the innovation intended to be among the responses to skyrocketing oil prices in the world market in 1970s.
A plant used to produce biogas, also known as a biodigester, is an anaerobic digester that treats farm wastes or energy crops. This has been mostly the case in the developed countries where in recent years the technology has assumed new importance because of advanced methods of waste treatment.
In most developing countries, however, domestic biogas plants convert livestock manure into gas. The technology has been feasible for smallholders with livestock producing at least 50 kgs of manure per day.
Recently, Camartec launched a large-scale production of biodigesters that could help many families cope with the crisis.
The project, as a component of the African Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP), known as Tanzania Domestic Biogas Programme (TDBP), is funded by The Netherlands, through its directorate of international cooperation.
Programme coordinator Lehada Cyprian Shilla, once expressed optimism over its potential to alleviate current energy woes as it would provide cleaner and safer energy solutions at a household level.
When it was officially inaugurated by Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal, a total of 1,439 units had been constructed under the programme in various regions giving Tanzania a lead ahead of other nations where the initiative is being undertaken in Africa.
“Besides, providing an alternative source of energy to households currently faced with rising kerosene prices and worsening electricity crisis, the programme is expected to stimulate the private sector’s participation in the development of biogas technology and sale of a gas "that is affordable and simple in rural and peri-urban households,” he said.
The Director General
P. O. Box 764