Spirulina

Give a man a spirulina and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to grow spirulina and the man feeds his village every day.

The algea

Our mission: fighting malnutrition in Kenya. Our solution: spirulina, a microalga and superfood. It provides all essential vitamins and lots of protein and energy. Spirulina contains six times as much protein as eggs! Even small doses can decrease malnutrition. Spirulina doesn’t only have an excellent nutrient profile, another advantage is its natural environment: it grows best in alkaline salt lakes (pH 9-11) where it can propagate at temperatures up to 40°C. This means it can even be cultivated in regions where extreme hot spells and droughts make conventional agriculture impossible, like in Northern Kenya.

Spirulina harvest tray close up
Spirulina Microscope
Spirulina drying Solar cooker
Spirulina Cup

Cultivation

The microalga is cultivated in space-saving tanks which are specifically built for this purpose. Daily harvests, high yields and low water consumption are significant advantages of spirulina cultivation. But that’s not all – it requires few resources and it is climate friendly: the microalga binds 14 times more CO2 than the equivalent area of rain forest. All these characteristics make spirulina the best weapon against hunger and malnutrition!

Possible applications

Spirulina is not only important for our mission. The use of spirulina as a food supplement is widespread, both in the form of a powder and pills. But what exactly is this new superfood?

In contrast to what most people expect, spirulina isn’t classified as a plant. It‘s a microalga which, just like plants, needs sunlight to grow. A special feature: in addition to green chlorophyll, spirulina also uses the bluish-coloured phycocyanin for photosynthesis. This is why it’s also known as the „blue-green alga“ or a  „cyanobacteria“. The name „spirulina“ derives from its visual appearance: when seen under the microscope, the tiny organism (0.3mm) is spiral-shaped.

Another distinction from plants is the higher speed at which microalgae grow and their capability to bind 50 times as much CO2. Thus spirulina plays a central role in maintaining a balance in our biosphere and climate.

The microalga exists for over 3.5 billion years, which makes it one of the oldest organisms in the world. Historical sources document its consumption in Central Africa and Central America since the 9th century. The Aztecs even processed spirulina into cakes. In Africa, for example near Lake Chad, people have been harvesting the alga for generations. Some animals also benefit from spirulina as a food source, flamingos native to Africa eat it and scientists assume that the high share of beta carotin is responsible for their pink plumage. Today spirulina is a super food, which is mostly used as a food supplement. It’s one of the few sources of vitamin B12, which is vital for blood formation and for the functions of the nervous system.

Due to its outstanding nutrient profile, we started growing spirulina in the Kenyan village of Nariokotome in 2016. Our on-site tanks allow the villagers regular access to spirulina, which helps them live a healthier life.

Spirulina Pond Harvest Jens Partner Nariokotome
Dried spirulina
Spirulina packaging
Child drinks spirulina