Circular Bioeconomy for the Kenyan Dairy Sector

Project summary

The idea of circular bioeconomy (CBE) is gaining broad interest as global environmental challenges become monumental and demand a shift from linear production-consumption models to circular models. CBE is particularly relevant for lower-middle income countries (LMICs) because the increasing demand for bio-feedstock creates opportunities to diversify agricultural-based economies while delivering on several SDGs.

There is a rich academic literature on CBE in industrialised countries, but little research has been done in LMICs. This project fills this knowledge gap by studying the application of the circular economy (CE) principles, i.e., prevention, reuse, recycling, recovery and disposal, in the growing and modernizing dairy industry in Kenya. We analyse the causal properties of dairies, and the systems they are part of, in order to explore the possibilities for applying CE principles to dairy sidestreams such as whey and discarded milk.

The project objectives are: i) to produce an integrated and comprehensive understanding of CBE potential and dynamics in LMICs with a focus on milk-processing; ii) to create a foundation of bioeconomic knowledge on which Kenyan dairy-industry stakeholders can act in applying biocircular principles to facilitate sustainable growth pathways; iii) to increase the capacity to conduct research on CBE in LMICs. We take a transdisciplinary approach, drawing on the social, natural and technical sciences and integrating practitioner perspectives. The novelty consists of an integrated and comprehensive analysis of food processors’ conditions for experimenting with and developing new sidestream valorisation solutions.

The project will contribute to the knowledge, technologies, business models, and regulations needed to develop a dairy CBE in Kenya. This should stimulate innovation, attract investments, and create new partnerships to enhance dairy sidestream valorisation and address SDGs.


First year report
The kick-off meeting of the VALORISE project was succesfully held at the ICIPE Campus, Kasarani, Nairobi 14-15 June 2022, organised by the African Centre of Technology Studies. The event also marked the first physical meeting of all project participants following a return to nearly normal conditions after the Corona epidemic.

Participants came from Roskilde University (new coordinating institution), Technical University of Denmark, Arla Foods Ingredients, African Centre of Technology Studies, Egerton University, CIAT, and Eastern and Southern African Dairy Association (ESADA).

The meeting discussed and planned the upcoming research activities, administrative questions, different valorisation opportunities based on inspirational talks from DTU and AFI, and current dairy market conditions trends in Kenya based on insights from ESADA.

Visits to dairy processors and selected institutions were performed in the days before and after the kick-off workshhop. These included the Kenya Dairy Board, the Danish Embassy in Nairobi, International Livestock Research Institute, Egerton University, New Kenya Creameries Co-operatives, Brown's cheese factory, and Bahati Dairies in Nakuru.

The partners have also embarked on initial scoping and review of literature and have planned the mapping of actors in the dairy value chain and innnovation system, with field work scheduled for September - November 2022 once the presidential election is over.

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