Sugarcane waste turns a tidy profit for juice-maker

Job Kanyi displays two brands of sugarcane juice in Nyeri on April 17, 2017. PHOTO | joseph wangui
Job Kanyi displays two brands of sugarcane juice in Nyeri on April 17, 2017. PHOTO | joseph wangui 

When he first started operating a sugarcane juice bar in Nyeri Town in 2014, disposal of cane bagasse was always a headache for Job Kanyi. 

He used to burn or throw away the bagasse in a nearby pit. But it took time to biodegrade and animals shun the tough fibre which is left after crushing and extraction of juice. 

Today, this problem has turned into a cash machine after it dawned on him that he could manufacture fertiliser he branded JOKA biochar and livestock supplements from the waste material.

“I started by making a small amount of supplement for my chicken as part of a pilot project lasting six months. After I reviewed production numbers, I realised there was a notable improvement,” he explains. 

Mr Kanyi then turned to commercial production, seeking to cash in on farmers’ natural desire to get the most out of their livestock or crops. He says the supplement improves digestion of feeds and absorption of the nutrients released, thereby raising output of eggs, milk and meat. 

He claims that the coop used by chicken is completely free from foul smell as the organic bio-supplement is highly absorptive and does release minimal gas upon digestion. 

Mr Kanyi sells the bio-supplement in three packages of one, two and 20 kilogrammes. A kilogramme retails at Sh100. To get maximum results, a kilogramme of the supplement is mixed with 10 kilos of feed. 

So far, reception has been encouraging but he admits that he has alot of marketing to do in order to explain to farmers exactly what benefits they stand to gain by purchasing his supplement.

He has now applied for certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), an accreditation, which if received, Mr Kanyi believes will boost sales significantly. 

The entrepreneur also manufactures biochar – a type of charcoal used for agricultural use to improve the quality of soil. He prepares the fertiliser by heating bagasse carbonised at high temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees. Biochar enables soil to have more spores, creating a large surface area which is beneficial to plants. 

He has been selling the soil booster since May 2015, adding that he has earned Sh700,000 from the venture so far. A 1.5kg of the product retails at Sh150. 

Mr Kanyi, who has over 35 years’ experience in teaching and extension services, also offers advice on better sugarcane farming practices and the best types of crop to grow for juice extraction.

Upon receiving the crops from farmers, he analyzes them to determine their juice content and their sweetness level before purchasing for processing.

He says sugarcane juice has various advantages such as improving digestion, controlling blood sugar, improving sleep, boosting memory and vitality, enhancing thinking rate and reviving dwindling libido, among other benefits. 

The other reason that drove him to sugarcane processing is the fact that most people were drinking beverages made of chemicals , bringing about health complications.

This triggered the desire to come up with a drink without any health hazard. He thus embarked on sugarcane processing in 2014 when he opened shop in Nyeri town.  

Today, Mr Kanyi has greatly expanded his venture, benefitting in three different ways from the plant.

“In a good month, I sell between 1,500 and 2,000 litres of juice. A litre of this juice is Sh160,” he said.