Title :Small-Scale Soap Production from Aloe vera in Koyonin, Marigat Sub-County, Kenya
Audience :Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Extension Agents
Marigat Sub-County is in Baringo County, Kenya and lies between latitude 00 20’N and 00 44’N and longitude 350 57’E and 360 12’E. The altitudinal range of the Sub-County is between 900 and 1200 m above sea level. The region is generally hot and dry throughout the year. Rainfall variability is very high with an annual average rainfall of about 650 mm. The rain falls within one season from April to August, followed by a prolonged dry season. The rainfall pattern is strongly influenced by local topography. Temperatures within the Sub-County vary from 30oC to 35oC, but can rise to 370 C in January and March. Soils comprise mainly of clay loams and alluvial deposits.
Due to the harsh climatic conditions of the area, agricultural activities are limited. A farmer group in Koyonin village known as Kamasaiwa Self-help Soap Production Group embarked on exploring various strategies for income generation since 2013, to improve their livelihood. In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture introduced to the Group soap production technology using aloe gel as an ingredient. Capacity of the Group in soap making using Aloe vera was further built by Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI).
Aloes grow well in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Aloe is grown for; agricultural, medicinal and decorative purposes, and is one of the ingredients found in many consumer products including; beverages, skin lotions, cosmetics, and ointments for minor burns and sunburns. Aloe vera
although exotic in Kenya, is well adapted to the semi-arid conditions of Koyonin village due to the plants succulent leaves and fibrous root system.
• To promote home-made small-scale soap production using Aloe vera
• To improve income for farmers in Koyonin village
Kamasaiwa Self-help Soap Production Group acquired the techniques of soap production using Aloe vera
as an ingredient from KEFRI through a training workshop and field demonstrations. To establish Aloe vera, the Group prepared land by first constructing soil and water conservation structures, after which they planted Aloe seedlings on a 50 m x 100 m plot belonging to a group member. The seedlings were supplied by KEFRI.
The equipment and tools used for soap production are; molds, containers, gloves, measuring syringe, thermometer, poles, knife, sieves, and glasses. Gloves, dustcoats, masks and water are also required. Aloe vera
leaves, sodium silicate, caustic soda, coconut oil, perfume and preservative are used as raw materials.
Procedure for soap production
1. Harvest 4 healthy mature aloe leaves.
2. Wash the harvested leaves thoroughly to remove dust and other unwanted materials.
3. Remove the spines from the sides of the leaf using a sharp knife.
4. Chop the leaves into pieces in a clean basin. The smaller the pieces the better.
5. Add 4 litres of water into the basin and squeeze the chopped leaves to extract Aloe jelly.
6. Pour 5 glasses of sieved jelly into another clean basin.
7. Add 2 glasses of caustic soda to the sieved jelly in the basin.
8. Stir the mixture continuously in one direction for 5 - 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 1000C.
9. Add 2 glasses of sodium silicate to the mixture to reduce the temperature in the basin to room temperature. This is Mixture No. 1.
10. Pour 15 glasses of sieved coconut oil in a separate container.
11. Add 2 mm of perfume of your choice and 4 mm of preservative into the coconut oil in the container. This is Mixture No. 2.
12. Pour Mixture No. 1 into Mixture No. 2 and continue stirring until it turns to a shiny brown colour. This is now a jelly-like soap.
13. Place plastic molds of desired shape on a clean table covered with a clean plastic sheet to avoid sticking and to enable ease of detachment from the mold.
14. Fill the molds with the jelly-like soap and leave to dry for three weeks.
15. Package and label the soap for sale.
|Squeezing chopped Aloe leaves to extract jelly
||Mixing caustic soda and Aloe jelly
|Filling the plastic molds with jelly-like soap
||Aloe soap after drying
• Improved livelihood of the Group members from proceeds of selling Aloe soap. The income has enabled the Group to: purchase own land for planting Aloe; construct a workshop for Aloe soap production; and to have piped water for irrigation and domestic use.
• Improved soil fertility as planted Aloe helps control soil erosion.
• Expanded product range to include liquid soap and shampoo.
• Constructed a workshop for large scale production of Aloe based products.
• Inadequate capital to construct a laboratory and to buy squeezing, mixing and drying machines.
• Lack of accreditation of the Aloe products
• Natural resources can improve livelihood if used sustainably.
• Value addition of products from natural resources increases income for communities.
• Although Aloe vera is an exotic species, there are other indigenous Aloe species that can be exploited for medicinal and cosmetic use.
Soap production from Aloe is a source of employment and income for the small scale farmers in Koyonin village. The practice is contributing to combating desertification.