As the about 500,000 hectares of forest are estimated to be lost every year a university don has said that Tanzania could offset such a threat by utilising its big potential in biogas.
Speaking at the Final Evaluation Workshop of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Tanzania Country Office three year Energy Programme, Prof Siza Tumbo has said that if Tanzanians decide to fully utilise the present of a large number cattle to build biogas digesters, it could have a positive effect, not only in saving forests but also in spurring growth in the establishment of biogas companies.
Prof Tumbo who is also the director general of the Arusha-based Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation and Rural Technology (Camartec) which has been implementing the Tanzania Domestic Biogas Programme (TDBP) said that given the total population of livestock, Tanzania has the total potential to build 700,000 domestic biogas digesters.
Out of that figure it has the potential plants that can be built using dairy cattle is 103, 829 while the potential for indigenous cattle is 601,309.
He said that figures show that Tanzania has the third largest livestock population on the African continent comprising 25 million cattle, 98 per cent of which are indigenous breeds, complemented by 16.7 million goats, 8 million sheep, 2.4 million pigs, and. 36 million chickens. The 2012/13 National Panel survey revealed 50 per cent of all households keep livestock
Prof Tumbo presenting a paper on Biogas and Cook stoves said that Tanzania currently has an estimated total of 9,990 existing unverified domestic biogas plants and 4,633 existing verified plants. He said that there is a potential to build 20,000 institutional plants
He said that using the potential could also have a big impact on the establishment biogas companies. Currently, Prof Tumbo said there are 11 biogas companies all over Tanzania.
According to information here biogas development started with support from GTZ under the Appropriate Technology Exchange Programme. It started in 1982/83 as Biogas Extension Services (BES) but before that, SIDO was promoting floating drum technology. Some plants built in 1983/84 still working (about 33 years).
The GTZ programme phased out in 1994 but the programme continued without external support. In 1990 the programme changed name to Special Energy Programme (introduction of stoves & mini-hydro), Example of mini-hydro – Njombe and Songea.