NAIROBI, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) on Friday inked a partnership deal with global environment conservation organization, Rainforest Alliance, for the roll-out of a project to provide smallholder tea farmers with renewable energy solutions.
Alfred Njagi, operations director at KTDA said the project, dubbed Empowering Rural Communities and Households in Kenya with Renewable Energy, will seek to reduce the amount of firewood used by households in the tea producing areas by catalyzing a renewable energy transition to smoke-free biomass briquettes.
"For us, the decision to enter into this partnership was seamless as it perfectly dovetailed with our strategic objective of transitioning smallholder tea farmers to more environmentally-friendly and green sources of energy," Njagi said during the launch of the project in Nairobi.
He said the project will focus on sensitizing farmers on alternative sources of energy such as biomass, solar and improved energy-saving cooking stoves with an aim of conserving the environment.
"It is our conviction that in the short-term, this partnership will enhance awareness of the need for renewable energy, while in the long-term, we will have our smallholder tea farmers and factories adopt energy sources that have less impact on the environment," he added.
Njagi said the project will also suggest the use of briquettes as a thermal energy option for steam generation.
The project will be rolled out across 12 factories across the country-with each chosen to represent one of the 12 KTDA administrative zones and shall take 18 months.
Julius Ng'ang'a, Rainforest Alliance regional representative said the partnership marks the beginning of a transformative journey towards the enhancement and uptake of clean energy solutions in the country and, by extension, the region.
"We believe that at the end of this first phase of the project, there will reduction of about 30 percent on reliance of wood fuel by the 12 piloted factories," said Ng'ang'a said.
He said the initiative will also include tree-planting engagements as well as capacity building on green energy among KTDA staff.