The company is currently investing in renewable energy including biogas and solar to reduce its dependence on the national grid
Farmer’s Choice Limited won the Best Most Improved Award at the 2018 Energy Management Awards.
The awards, themed ‘setting the pace in resource efficiency towards competitive local manufacturing’, awarded over twenty companies that have achieved substantial reductions in their energy consumption through implementation of energy efficient measures and technologies.
The awards are organized by the Kenya Association of Manufactures, an industry lobby group that brings together the manufacturing sector in Kenya, and supported by various local and international stakeholders.
This was the second time for Farmers Choice to participate in the awards. According to S.N Mbugua, the company’s operations director, Farmers Choice is an energy intensive manufacturing unit. Saving on energy would therefore cut the cost of production.
The awards also act as a benchmarking platform. “We believe they give us an opportunity to see how other companies conduct their business,” says Mr. Mbugua.
The operations director attributes the awards to enhanced energy consumption and staff awareness. “We have made great strides in improving our water and energy consumption and enhanced staff awareness on such matters in the past few years.”
The company has invested in solar energy for heating water before it goes to the boilers. It is also using biogas generated from effluent to do some of the cooking. “We have changed from the normal lighting to LEDs and they use as little as 10 percent of power to achieve similar results, says Mr. Mbugua. Many of these investments and activities show Farmers Choice’s concern to save energy, something that also attributed to winning the award.
So you are using more of renewable energy?
“No. we are an energy intensive company, currently operating on 1.5 megawatts. There is no way we can replace our power supply from the national grid with renewable sources,” Mr. Mbugua further notes. Much of the energy is based on the refrigeration system.
The company however understands the benefits of effective energy management, because it provides an opportunity to optimize energy costs by understanding energy flow as well as procurement and economics of energy, and reduce its harmful impact on our environment.
“Our effort to use renewable energy helps in saving the environment,” says Mr. Mbugua, adding that “We try to strike a balance between profitability for the company and environmental sustainability.” By doing this, they deviate from compromising the future ability in their efforts to curb climate change.
Companies, especially those in manufacturing, must focus on two objectives: minimizing cost of production and saving the environment.
What it means for the company
Having won the award meant a lot for the company. It is an inspiration and Farmers Choice feel motivated to do even more. According to the operations director, the firm is investing in green production, a business strategy that focuses on profitability through environmentally friendly operating processes.
Going forward, Farmers Choice plans to continue taking advantage of available opportunities. It’s looking at ways to generate more biogas and make it more efficient. It also plans to expand its solar energy collection, minimize steam losses, enhance heat transfer in the cooking processes, and advise staff on such matters. Mr. Mbugua says that achieving energy efficiency involves a whole spectrum of activities as well as funding.
Farmers Choice complies with energy and regulation commission (ERC) rules on installing solar water heating. The idea is to reduce the cost of fossil fuels. It is also adheres to the Energy Management Regulation.
“Renewables is always a good bet and other manufactures in Kenya should emulate the same. They should also invest in people, if they are looking into low cost savings.”
Businesses should also focus on providing products and services that people value while using fewer resources and respecting the environment.
This is in line with the energy management awards that are geared at encouraging a culture of energy efficiency and conservation, and recognize enterprises that have made major and sustainable gains in energy efficiency through the application of modern energy management principles and practices, and in the process made significant energy and cost reductions.
Energy is a significant enabler in achieving the Big 4 Agenda. The Government is committed to the provision of affordable, reliable, quality and sustainable power. This is evident in the various projects that different government agencies have embarked on.