Every two weeks, livestock farmer Moses Lemaya receives visitors on his farm in Kitengela, south of Nairobi, Kenya.

Lemaya, one of the few remaining pastoralists from the Maasai community in the fast-growing suburb, keeps some 50 cows and several goats and sheep.

The visitors, who are farmers, come in search of manure from the animals, which they book and pay for in advance. The farmers collect the manure every evening, pile up at one location and wait to sale after two weeks.

A 90kg sack goes for 400 shillings (3.8 U.S. dollars), with the farmer having increased the price from 2.8 dollars months ago due to high demand. “I had to raise the price because there were so many farmers coming here for it,” said Lemaya on Thursday.

So high is the demand for animal manure that it has become the new gold on Kenyan farms.

The cow manure is not only sought-after for use as organic fertilizer as an interest in farming rises in Kenya but also to produce biogas and briquettes.

Demand for biogas and briquette has risen as charcoal and electricity prices hit a new high in the East African nation.

Besides manure from cows, chicken dropping are also highly sought for use as fertilizer and animal feeds.

“Many crop farmers are now aware of the benefits of livestock manure to the crops and in improving the quality of soil,” said Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy.

Macharia noted that as an agronomist, she advises farmers to mix synthetic fertilizers with manure for better results. “This not only helps to boost the soils and improve plant growth but it also cuts the cost of production for farmers as livestock manure is cheaper as compared to the chemical fertilizers,” said Macharia.

Armed with the knowledge, many crop farmers in Kenya in both rural and urban areas are seeking for livestock manure in droves.

“I replace the litter in my chicken coop every three weeks. Initially, I had a challenge of disposing of the litter which comprises of sawdust and chicken droppings but that is now behind me as crop and livestock farmers buy it,” said Stephen Mutuku, a farmer in Machakos said.

To crop farmers, Mutuku sells a 90kg bag of the litter at 1.8 dollars while to dairy farmers at 2.8 dollars. “The latter is expensive because I have to sort it from the sawdust because it is a good source of protein to animals,” he said.

Dozen of Kenyan farmers are currently harnessing biogas from chicken and cow dung on their farms, with the energy being used for farm and household needs.

The biogas is being used for cooking, lighting the farm and the home and in powering farm machines like chaff-cutters. It is harnessed from slurry (a mixture of cow dung and water) from the dairy unit, which is directed into a bio-digester where it is broken down to produce methane. Enditem

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