Utilizing sugarcane industrial wastes for animal feeds and fuel: CAES makes a Milk booster and Briquettes from sugar cane molasses and trash.
Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has made a milk booster to mitigate mulnutrion, extreme hunger and poverty through improved milk production, nutrition and improved daily cash flow among farmers. The milk booster is a new innovation involving the use of sugar cane industrial waste of molasses mixed with other ingredients like maize bran, cotton seed cake, urea, mineral salts and lime.
The project entitled, “Participatory research for technology development on use of Molasses Urea Blocks (MUB) and local feedstuff for improved dairy cattle production in Uganda”, was spear headed by Dr Fred Kabi of the Department of Agricultural production. The project started in September, 2008. The first production was recorded in December 2011.
In a public private partnership with Kakira Sugar Works Ltd, Kakira Outgrowers Rural Development Fund (KORD) and Dairy Development Authority (DDA), the college embarked on participatory research for technology development aimed at utilizing sugarcane industrial waste like molasses for improved dairy cattle productivity in Uganda. This was under the World Bank funded Millennium Science Initiative (MSI) coordinated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). The funding facilitated provision of a platform for learning alliances geared towards translating science into tangible sellable products aimed at improving livelihoods of the rural folks.
Building on the complementary synergies between the private sector who have the necessary raw material and the scientists from the public sector who are equipped with knowledge, a molasses urea dairy supplementary feed was developed which increases milk production by over 30%. At laboratory level, the college in a public private partnership has successfully spearheaded the manufacturing of a milk booster that will not only help dairy farmers to boost their milk production but also reduce malnutrition, extreme hunger and poverty especially in the Busoga region.
At the factory level, enough knowledge has been acquired through public private partnership with MAK scientists to translate molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into the milk booster which awaits commercialization. At the farm level, sugarcane tops and other crop residues are to be used to produce feeds and fuel briquettes as a way of diversifying sellable products at the household level.
Sugar cane tops, trash or dry leaves that animals cannot feed on are usually burnt to reduce on the excessive mulching on the farm which does not allow proper sugar cane growth after harvest. However with the current innovations at MAK the farmer should be smiling since they will be able to diversifying on their income at the farm by producing fuel briquettes from trash and a beef booster from sugar cane tops.
The Milk booster has a rear component which is urea that facilitates proper functioning of the microbial population in the rumen. With the new technology from Novus International, the milk booster has been fortified with micronutrients and aflatoxin binders which will not only improve on productivity of the dairy animals but also step up the keeping ability of the feed for over one year.
A farmer therefore, needs to accustom the animal to the feed for four days before for full supplementation. The moment the animal gets used to it, it will improve on its digestibility because it increases the rate of food fibre breakdown by the microbial population in the gastro-intestinal tract. By supplementing 1 kg per animal per day, a farmer increases milk production by over 30% percent .For instance a cow producing 10 litres will increase milk production to 13 litres while the one producing 20 litres increases to 26 litres per animal per day hence improved daily cash flow, better household nutrition, better health of the calves that will constitute tomorrows herd for the farmer.
The milk booster was evaluated by farmers in a stakeholders meeting that involved scientists, the private sector, local government and the farmers in 2009 and by then the farmers set a price of 800 shillings per kilogram. This price is likely to be revised since molasses and other major ingredients of the milk booster have gone up.
The milk booster was tested on 100 dairy farms in the districts of Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli, Mayuge and Mukono. Farmers are excited to have this product on the market. However, the future of this potentially transformative product is in limbo. First, the commercialization of the milk booster requires about 500, 000 USD Kakira sugar works says. In addition, the intellectual property right (IPR) dispute between the scientists and the private sector prevents the product reaching the farmers as early as needed.
However, scientists are pursuing an amicable solution at a round table with the private sector with the help from the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. To respond to farmers calling for the milk booster, scientists at the college have resolved to continue producing the booster though at a laboratory level to meet the needs of the farmers who have tested the feeds while waiting for the full blown industrial commercialization.
While working with Kakira sugar works, the scientists from MAK observed that when sugarcane is cut, about 70% of the cane is taken to the mill to produce sugar and bagasse, The bagasse is used by the industry to generate its own electricity some of which is available for the national grid. 17% of the cane is left in the garden as the green sugar cane top while 13% is the dry trash that is also left with the farmer.
The sugar cane top is a candidate for producing basal beef feed which can substitute for elephant grass using molasses and other ingredients to make a complete total mixed ration while the trash has been identified as an alternative fuel sources in form of briquettes to reduce on environmental stress in the area where all trees have been cut to promote sugar cane production.
In addition to the sugar cane trash, other crop residues like coffee husks, rice and soybean husks have been dry distilled in a study at Kabanyolo and in combination with sugar cane molasses, fuel briquettes have been produced.