Portfolio Learning

Building Productive Use Biogas Appliances

How does productive use biogas appliance innovation contribute to increased energy access, to rural livelihoods and to the development of biogas as a utility?

Smallholder farmers are among some of the most disadvantaged people in the developing world, without access to technology, training and financing to improve productivity.

There are an estimated 570 million smallholder and family farms, home to over 2 billion people who manage 75% of all agricultural land and produce the majority of the world’s food.

We’ve supported Sistema.bio since 2017 to expand its operations into East Africa and India. Sistema.bio offers a range of biogas digesters to suit subsistence households as well as smallholder and productive scale farms. The digesters use animal manure to produce biogas suitable for cooking or heating, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and producing fertiliser that improves agricultural yields.

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In partnership with the UK Government, we have been supporting Sistema.bio to develop and test the appetite of productive use appliances that serve the needs of larger family farmers and measure the impact on their livelihoods.

Research was carried out with 5,000 farmers across Kenya, India and Mexico and data collected from Sistema.bio’s 7,000 existing customers.

Appliances explored included:

  • Chaff cutters
  • Grain mills
  • Water pumps
  • Water heaters
  • Tortilla/chapati stoves

The report identifies that productive scale farmers spend dramatically more money on productive scale energy uses than on domestic uses. In India, this increase was over 10x.

The data shows that Sistema.bio can improve livelihoods for hundreds of millions of households by adding value in the agricultural value chain through thermal and mechanical energy products, and by creating significant energy savings at productive scale farms.

Based on the findings in the report, Sistema.bio are prioritising these products for release in selected markets in 2019.

Download the full report [2MB]