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Turning maize cobs into gold

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A local investor has set up a manufacturing company that company will use maize cobs as raw material to produce various chemicals for industrial use.

Bio-Corn Products EPZ, a subsidiary of Nairobi-based manufacturing firm ISONS Group, is set to produce a specialty chemical known as furfural, which is used as a solvent in the refining of lubricating oils, several pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, resins and plastics. The chemical also serves as a pesticide and weed killer.

The factory, based in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, will be a major boost to maize farmers in the area who can now earn from maize cobs, which often end up as waste or domestic fuel.

ISONS, which purchased Kenya Furfural Company plant from its receiver managers Ernst & Young, commissioned the plant last week with state-of-the-art technology. It sits on a 20-acre-piece of land on the outskirts of Eldoret town.

Bio-Corn Products EPZ CEO Ashite Patel said furfural is also useful in oil refining industry, as it is a crucial ingredient in the cracking process of crude oil. It is also an eco-friendly additive to rocket fuel.

The plant is expected to begin production in October this year. “This is a high impact business that will contribute significantly to the Kenyan economy in terms of GDP contribution and generating sustainable income for thousands more low-income individuals such as farmers, allowing them to commercialize on the main input – corncob – which would otherwise be waste,” Patel said.


Safe pesticides and weed killers will become available locally, he said, effectively driving down costs for farmers.

While much of the furfural will be for export, local manufacturers will also benefit from byproducts, which include acetic and formic acid.

Mr Patel said Bio-Corn Products EPZ will directly employ 400 people and consume 60,000 tonnes of corncobs annually, producing 5,000 tonnes of furfural, 2500 tons of acetic acid and 400 tonnes of formic acid.

The firm has already obtained Export Processing Zone (EPZ) status. “Due to its EPZ status, Bio-Corn will export majority of its final products with a smaller proportion of the chemicals being sold locally in the Kenyan market, Mr Patel added.

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BT Reporter
BT Reporterhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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  1. Hi,
    That sounds good mainly for job seekers and farmers who would like to supply you with cobs.
    However I would like to become one of your shareholders once you launch the business


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