Status update: what's happening?

Mar 4, 2024

After careful preparations in 2023, this January we have started the actual production of spirulina. Our initial production system is up and running at the Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA) campus, and we are now focussing on establishing our first large-scale production facility in Ejisu, near Kumasi’s center. Setting up production gave us a lot of new insights, which will definitely be useful when creating a large-scale facility. So what exactly have we learned and what are the plans for the next months?

As described in our previous blog, our first visit to Ghana took place in May 2023. From that moment onwards, we worked towards the actual production of spirulina. Together with - a Dutch spirulina producer with over 8 years experience - we got started with the design of a bioreactor that was perfectly suited for the Ghanaian climate. In August, we came back to Ghana to demonstrate and test the technique together with the KITA staff. It ran smoothly, so we decided to focus on the next step: setting up our first actual production system at the KITA campus. A lot of work was involved: getting the right permits, setting up the legal entities, transporting the materials and, most important, setting up a team. After months of work, we took off to Ghana in the first week of 2024 to make it happen.

And it happened: the extensive preparations made by the KITA staff, and ourselves led to our first production system being ready within two weeks. Since then, we have been producing spirulina and learned a lot. Mintex - a local biotech-consultancy firm - has been taking samples of the spirulina twice a day for analyses, which has led to great insights we can use for setting up our large-scale facility. Because that’s what’s next. In March, we will start the construction of our first large-scale production facility and by the end of May, the production will be up and running. The site is located in Domeabra, 20 kilometers away from Adum, the center of Kumasi. Below, a snapshot of the 3D-design can be viewed. The produced spirulina will initially be exported to the Netherlands, because our first customers are based there. 

3D-design of the production facility in Domeabra.

So what have we learned so far? First of all, the KITA team members (again) showed their great ability to perform. Before coming to Ghana in January, we created handbooks with extensive explanations about the technique and setting everything up, thinking that without these it would never be possible to set up the installation. However, after a few days we already noticed the KITA-team having absolutely zero misunderstandings about the technique and even were able to fix broken parts without having used them before. The cause for this is obvious: since 1984, KITA has been setting up agri- and aquacultural projects, so they know exactly what they’re doing. Something else we already knew, but got confirmed, is that locals are very eager to work and join us on our mission. Together with the University of Amsterdam, we have been conducting research in Domeabra to get a clearer image of the local working culture, and results have been very positive. Besides the practical experience and eager working culture, we have learned a lot of other things. Fortunately, we have enough blog posts to come in which we can share these insights with you. The overall conclusion for now is that the past two months have been a great learning process and made us even more optimistic about the future.