A Medicinal Spirulina Farm to boost immunity of patients in Kenya
Spirulina and immune system: First medicinal spirulina farm to boost immunity in Kenya! Mercy Kahenda writes in the Standard Digital about a Doctor in Kenya: Dr. David Githanga, a pediatrician and cardiologist who decided to be the change he wanted to see in the world.
Spirulina and immune system
Dr. Githanga loves nutrition and this is why he decided to undertake the construction of a farm to produce an incredible food, that will help boost immune system in children, the elderly people living with HIV/AIDs and help expectant mothers.
Whenever he is free, Dr. Githanga drives with his whife, Dr Jessie Githanga, to their Gilgil farm where they grow spirulina. Dr Githanga says he was inspired to establish a spirulina farm by his profession, which instilled in him the desire to help boost the immune system of infants. “It is heartbreaking to receive patients with deteriorated health conditions which can be prevented through proper feeding. I decided to grow this crop to provide a solution to people with low immunity,” Dr Githanga tells Smart Harvest
To provide conducive conditions for the crop, he established a greenhouse measuring 19.5 metres by 7.8 metres for the aquatic crop. Inside the greenhouse are 12 cemented troughs measuring six metres by one metre each where the crop is planted.
To provide controlled conditions for the crop, he established a 19.5 meters by 7.8 meters greenhouse. Inside are 12 cement cultivation ponds measuring 6×1 meters each. The greenhouse is installed with gutters to harvest rainwater, which is then channeled into a tank. “Rainwater is the best in spirulina farming because it has no chemicals like water sourced from rivers and dams,” he says. Spirulina and immune system work hand in hand.
When starting the venture, he bought five liters of substrate (seeds) from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology at Sh1,000 each ($10 USD). He was also trained by specialists from the university on how to produce quality yields.
Harvesting is done every day once a pond is full and thick with spirulina. “Seven days after planting, the crop was thick enough for harvesting,” he said.
The Incredible productivity of spirulina
The spirulina crop is turned over every two hours to break its long strings into smaller pieces for faster growth. Agitation also helps in aeration, and prevents the crop from dying. “If the crop is left to concentrate on the top layer, it can easily dry and die,” he says. A farmer only requires enough starter mix to renew his culture once every six months before he drains the troughs and refills new substrates.
During harvesting, he uses a net to separate the crop from water. The harvested crop is placed on a drying trough where it takes at least two days for it to dry. It is then crushed into powder and packaged for sale.
Dr. Githanga harvests at least 360 grams of dried spirulina every day. He sells the dried crop to individual consumers and pharmaceuticals. A kilogram sells for at least Sh6,000 ($60 USD).
He says his main challenge is lack of market because most Kenyans do not know the crop or its health benefits. “My joy is seeing people live happily and free of diseases. This is the reason I am planning to woo more farmers into spirulina,” he says.