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 heart of our locations are the breeding ponds in which the algae is cultivated. Since the beginning we have constantly improved our construction and adapted it to the respective onsite conditions. Besides our breeding ponds there are also drying chambers. As soon as the sprirulina is ready for harvest, it is sieved through special cloths and then dried gently before it is processed into powder.
The Spirulina ponds
The spriulina is cultivated in salt water ponds with a size of 15 m x 4 m and a depth of 40 cm. They are made of waterproof concrete. Up from the beginning, it was important for us to obtain all our buliding material from local sources.
Besides a high pH, two other factors are necessary for an optimal growth: first of all, a sufficiently high oxygen concentration and enough sunlight. This can be achieved by a good circulation, which is why we have constantly adapted and, over the years, further developed our pond constructions. The additional concrete walls in the tanks divide the ponds in their middle. On the inside, the ponds are rounded up and there’s a slope instead of harsh edges between the bottom and the sidewalls. This way, a cycle is created inside the construction, which is driven by a specially designed water wheel (paddle wheel) with a solar engine. It’s important to the wheel to turn slowly in order to avoid the destruction of the spirulina. At the same time, it still allows its continous circulation.
We made adjustments to the different conditions at our various locations. For example, in Turkana fine nets protect the spirulina from sand which might be blown into the breeding ponds. In Ebukanga, a light permeable roof protects the algae from rain water which would change the adjusted salt concentrations.
Here we have documented the construction of our second location in Ebukanga.
Our superfood can be harvested within a few days. It is ready for harvest when the culture has multiplied and the single cells get hooked into each other due to their helical strucutre. They can then be fished out of the water with sievers or nets. After the harvest, the algae looks a lot like spinach.For the harvesting process we use thin-meshed plastic nets which are clamped in wooden frames.
After the harvesting process the wooden frames can be placed into our drying chambers. The drying chambers are simple wooden constructions which heat up in the sulight. Thus, Spirulina can be dried in a gentle, natural way without direct sun exposure. Like that, not only is Spirulina’s durability extended, but all its essential nutrients remain intact.
In a further process the superfood is processed to powder, which makes the handling and the distribution of the product a lot easier.
Another great advantage of spirulina in our fight against malnutrition is its growth by cell division. It is practivally impossible to harvest the whole culture at once. The remaining cells divide with an exponential growth rate, so that it can be harvested again already within a few dayswithout the need for new culture “seeding”.
We insist on an excellent quality of our product! That’s why we verify the purity of our Sprirulina more than once. Our farm manager examines the superfood under the microscope on a regular basis. Like that, possible contaminations can be detected and fought right away. Moreover, we are in the process of registering spirulina as an official food at the local authorities. Therefore, it has to pass strict tests. Furthermore, we work on an innovative sensor system for the surveillance and control of our superfood.