Problems Worth Solving
Bio One, as all inhabitants of the RSA and probably Africa, has been exposed to almost daily reporting of the high cost of living and high rates of unemployment.
Vast Stretches Of Unproductive Arable Land
Bio One was born out of an African problem where vast stretches of good arable land are not cultivated at all due to a lack of both capital and know-how by the owners.
In SA arable land makes out 9.9 per cent of land area, while permanent crops only make out 0.3 per cent. This ratio means that there is roughly 11.7 million ha of land “available” for cultivation.
At the same time, the areas where these stretches of land are located happens to be in areas characterised by poverty and unemployment.
Unemployment in SA is estimated at between 25 and 35 per cent. The unemployment problem, furthermore, is characterised by its lengthy duration: in the mid-1990s nearly two-thirds of the unemployed had never worked for pay.
High Cost of Imported Foodstuff And Agricultural Inputs
Research indicated that the demand for both edible oil and fertilisers in South Africa is met through importation that results in exorbitant high prices to consumers and farmers.
In 2017 SA imported 1,000 MT of Palm Oil (United States Department of Agriculture). In the same year fertilisers to the value of US$499.88 million (ZAR 6.7 billion) was imported to South Africa.
Charcoal “killing” Africa
The “Global Citizen” sums this problem up as follows:
“Charcoal has put deforestation into overdrive, exacerbating already deadly climate change effects and is killing people in their homes.
The World Health Organization says smoke from fires that burn solid fuels like wood, dung, coal and charcoal are killing more than 10,000 people a day. The US government estimates “smoke from open fires and stoves claim 4.3 million lives each year. That’s more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”
Deforestation, in general, is a huge problem across Africa. Researchers warn that some areas in South Africa could fully exhaust their fuelwood reserves by 2020. The situation is not any better in other African nations.”
The Bio-One solution
Project Moringa, developed by Bio-One, addresses all three problems outlined above.
What Is Project Moringa?
It is a farming and production operation on 10,500 ha of land that will entail the planting of Moringa trees (Moringa oleifera) and Vetiver grass as well as the production of four core products, namely:
- Liquid fertiliser – Solving the problem of expensively imported fertilisers.
- Edible oil – Solving the problem of expensive imported edible oil.
- Biochar briquettes – Solving the problem of using natural forestry/trees/ vegetation for fuel.
- Employment – Each Moringa Project will provide work for more than 700 local people.
Each Moringa Project will make use of 10,500 ha arable farmland in an area that is not subject to zero degree temperatures, and that falls in an area with a minimum rainfall of 400mm per year.
The farm is divided into the following sections.
1 – 9,000ha – Moringa Trees For The Production Of Edible Oil
These trees will yield 4,000l/ha of edible oil, in total 25.6 million litres or 20,000 ton, per year. This quantity represents about 0.017 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million ton of edible oil consumed in South Africa annually.
2 – 300ha – High-density Moringa Trees For The Production Liquid Fertilisers And Bio Char
A total of 99 million Moringa trees will be planted on 300ha that will be harvested every 90 days for the production of:
a) Liquid Fertiliser – The harvest will produce 400-ton wet biomass/ha/year with a 75 per cent moisture content. After extraction of the moisture 7,500-ton liquid fertiliser will be delivered monthly.
b) Biochar (“Charcoal”) – The offal/agricultural waste from both the production processes of edible oil and liquid fertiliser will be processed into biochar using flash carbonisation technology. This process will result in 10,000 ton of biochar that will be both waterproof and dust free, meaning that the product can be stored and transported in bulk like coal. It also says that the product can be sold without the need for packaging.
3 – 1,300ha – Factories/Plants, Greenhouse, Storage And Offices
The remaining 1,300ha of land will be used for the following:
- Oil Pressing Plant
- Liquid Fertiliser Plant
- Carbonisation Plant
- Electricity Plant
- Canning Plant (Phase II)
Project Moringa plans to employ more than 760 people with about 700 of them being wage workers.
The Minimum Wage Bill stipulates that workers will receive a minimum of ZAR20 per hour which translates into a monthly wage of about ZAR3,500 for a 40-hour week, and about ZAR3,900 for those who work 45 hours a week.
The minimum wage paid to workers in Project Moringa is ZAR4,500 which is 28.5 per cent more than the stipulated minimum wage.
The project will inject more than ZAR43 million in year one and more than ZAR86 million from year two into the local “economy” through salaries and wages.