API candlenuts for biodiesel

As one of the main sources of greenhouse emissions globally, the African Power Initiative in Uganda is working towards substituting fossil fuels with biodiesel derived from kukui, or candlenut, seeds.

One of the major challenges for API is the operational costs of establishing an outgrowers scheme for candlenut tree planting. Costs are high as they necessarily incorporate training, transportation, nursery bed establishment, extension services and the many other running costs that the company incurs as trees are planted in the different regions. To mitigate these costs, API works with community partners for the efficient management of the farmers. In Western Uganda they have partnered with Prosper Mama, a community-based organisation and the West Ankole Anglican diocese to mobilise and recruit farmers into tree planting.

During one of their recent awareness creation workshops in Mbarara, Ibanda, Kazo, Kamwenge district in Western Uganda, 4,000 seedlings were distributed to interested farmers. These workshops are an opportunity to share and talk about the economic opportunities available to farmers, including the potential for carbon credit earnings and the various products and by-products that can be derived from candlenut seed oil. With over 500 farmers expressing an interest in tree planting, API went on to establish seed nurseries to cater for the demand in the region.

Candlenut trees are native to Uganda, and are known as kabaka anjagala or, in English, ‘the king loves me’. Easily intercropped, so that farmers can maintain their traditional crops, The candlenut begins flowering and fruiting within 4 to 5 years and then flower several times each year. From these flowerings farmers can harvest an average yield of 80 kilograms of seeds from each tree, ensuring that there is plenty of seeds, and income, year-round.

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