GFAR blog

YAP proposal #131: Providing Clean Cooking Solutions to Rural Dairy Farmers (Quincy Godwin, USA)

Hi, my name is Quincy Godwin from Ahoskie, North Carolina. Being 18, I can confidently say that I’m one of the youngest, if not the youngest person in the competition. But don’t let my age fool you into thinking that my impact is not both substantial and meaningful.

Just after high school I was selected by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the Global Gap Year Fellowship to travel the world. I chose to spend my time abroad, completing a sustainable development project in rural India with a couple of guys I met on the Internet.

Through some serious web-crawling and persistence I came into contact with a two entrepreneurs in Andhra Pradesh working on an early-stage start-up social enterprise. They invited me to become part of the team.

What we do is extend biogas technology and distribute units to rural dairy farmers. These units stop the farmers and their families from burning solid wastes, like wood and crop wastes, to cook their food. And it allows them to turn their cow manure (of which they have an abundant amount) into clean carbon-free biogas.

Why, you ask?

Because we’re terrified of climate change, and want to do everything in our power to stop it in its tracks.

Riding through rural India, you may see half a dozen black smoke stacks littering the horizon at any time. Here is where a lot of the world’s atmospheric pollution comes from: here in the Asian countryside where over 166 million households that have no other way still burn wood and crop residue for the purpose of cooking their meals. This is where the revolution must take place. This is where the change will happen.

unnamedWe’re on a long-term mission to provide clean cooking solutions to these millions. Our goal here is to use the USD 5,000 granted by this competition to deliver at least ten new Biogas units to villages near our headquarters in Tirupati. These units would eliminate a huge source of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions that contributes to climate change, and save entire communities.

We’ve already installed a couple of units nearby. With these we’ve established a pay-it-forward system that allows us to provide units for the farmers at no up-front cost, and have a single unit pay for the next farmer’s unit.

Here’s how that works:

The grant from the competition goes towards buying a Biogas unit for a local dairy farmer at no cost to him. The unit produces enough cooking gas for three to four hours of cooking a day, plenty for an average household. The unit also produces ten kilograms of biofertilizer a day, which we sell to nearby farmers. Over time the dairy farmer will pay off the unit in small increments, while the funds collected from the fertilizer go to buy the next dairy farmer his own Biogas unit—creating a chain reaction of sustainable development.

Multiply this example by ten. And then next year by ten more. That’s what the money can do.

USD 500 buys a unit for a household, which buys a unit for another household. These units go on to buy more units for more families. USD 5,000 in our hands would have impact beyond measurability.

Purchase Biogas unit materials – USD 2,300–April 1–7, 2016
Installation and service – USD 1,000 – April 7–June 30
Slurry processing to fertilizer – USD 1,000 – July through March (Throughout project)
Data collection for impact measurement – USD 200 – July through March (Throughout project)
Maintenance for units – USD 500 – July through March – (Throughout Project)

The Problem

Three billion people around the planet cook their meals over an open flame or on a crude stove every day by burning wood, crop waste, and animal dung. That’s nearly half the population of the world, Over 166 million in India alone. These ways of cooking harm the environment as well as the people forced to use them. Deforestation, CO2 and methane emissions are caused by the use of firewood and animal waste—destroying the atmosphere and creating respiratory problems in the users.

This issue has been around as long as cooking has. Then in the 1960s, Biogas came along as potential salvation—it failed.

What happened?

Back in the 1960s millions of Biogas units were installed in India, but quickly lost favor with the local people because the units did not function properly. They were complicated, broken easily, and were not maintained by the installers.

So what can we do?

SustainEarth uses innovative Biogas technology to provide affordable, clean cooking gas to rural communities.

By rebranding the now-notorious Biogas product as Gau Gas and implementing new materials, new processes, and new technology SustainEarth will solve the problems faced by the last generation of Biogas users and perhaps change some minds about the usefulness of Biogas.

Does Biogas actually work?

Biogas is great. It’s an old idea that had great potential: turn a plentiful organic waste, in this case cow dung, into clean, convenient, reliable, and affordable cooking gas; eliminating a source of atmosphere pollution and deforestation in the process. Through recent developments we’ve managed to harness and take advantage of this potential, while improving upon the less-than-satisfactory aspects that turned many people away from it.

The units are easier to install, more reliable, easier to maintain. Advancements in technology now allow us to track the yield of units from our headquarters. We’ve established an efficient support system to ensure that all of our units are functioning at their best. If not, we fix them!

Biogas is asking for a second chance, and we see the worth in giving it one.


Blogpost and picture submitted by Quincy Godwin (USA): freshquince6[at]

The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only. 

This post is published as proposal #131 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:

  • Leave a comment (question, suggestion,..) on this project in the comment field at the bottom of this page
  • Support the post by clicking the “Like” button below (only possible for those with a com account)
  • Spread this post via your social media channels, using the hashtag: #GCARD3


Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!

As a donor, support young agripreneurs and sponsor this unique project.

Check out the side column for our current sponsors.
“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.



189 thoughts on “YAP proposal #131: Providing Clean Cooking Solutions to Rural Dairy Farmers (Quincy Godwin, USA)”

  1. yeah it is quite a good inititive by you guyz #Koushik and #piyush.keep supporting Sustainearth..

    1. A chunk here, a chunk there… soon enough we’ll have climate change under control. Everyone must do a small part. Thanks for the support, Sahil.

  2. Quince, Your gap year work has been incredibly impactful. I know this initiative deserves the funding from this competition, so here’s hoping you get it!

    1. Thanks a lot, Parker! It’s awesome to know that I have great people like you out that support me in my endeavors. Thanks for being a great friend all the way through this thing. Here’s hoping for the funding that will make a difference in the lives of many!

  3. Proud of you Quincy and all your accomplishments your the smartest guy I know for sure and your most def going places! Love you bro!

    1. Thanks, bro! I’d be nothing without the family that raised me, and I’m not sure how much farther I could go than India, haha! I’m proud of you as well, buddy. Thanks for supporting me and SustainEarth. Love ya!

    1. The GGYF has been a literal dream come true. I can’t believe all that has happened to me, and how much I’ve accomplished in my time abroad. Cheers, Kaitlin!

    1. We agree, Saaransh. That’s why we wish to expand our impact with this competition, so that we can meet the need of the dairy farmers and their communities. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Wonderful blog with excellent information. Thank you for all you are doing to help our world! Hope you all get the funds.

    1. Cheers, Patty. We’re just doing our duty by pursuing our passions. The funds received would be a blessing to many lives, including our own. Thank you for your support.

  5. This is a wonderful endeavor that you guys are doing to save our planet. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey.

    1. Hi Stephanie. Thanks for your input. SustainEarth is on a mission to cut back India’s contribution to atmospheric pollution because we really love our planet. Your support is very appreciated.

  6. Wow! I’m so impressed. Your aunt Lynn was my college roommate. I’m proud of you and I know she is. Keep up the good work!!

  7. What a meaningful project. Quincy, I am astounded by you in many ways! Keep up the great work, I hope this project is super successful. Keep us updated.
    Lisa Rushing (Ally’s mom)

    1. The success of this project would mean an embellished livelihood for perhaps thousands of people. That, to me, is priceless. Your support is very appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Darin. We found a way to solve several problems with one cost efficient stroke. Eliminate carbon emissions by replacing with Gau Gas, cut back on cost for the villagers by equipping them to use a plentiful resource, and establishing an economic system to ensure long-term sustainability. SustainEarth sincerely appreciates your support

    1. Janice, our supporter’s small gestures mean the world to us. Thank you so much. I’m glad you’ve found an interest in the work that we do.

    1. Thanks, Bhaskar. It was great meeting you at the StartAP event. Having bright, young college students like you following our cause gives me great joy. SustainEarth is devout in our pursuit of clean energy solutions. Koushik and Piyush have worked persistently to make the systems easy, adaptive, and low cost as you say. By solving the problems of the last generation of Biogas’ units, we found that the next step, naturally, was to make them more accessible to the people that could truly make use of them.
      THank you for your thoughts. Cheers!

  8. At the present circumstances, the most needed project to over the fuel short and for its conservation. great

    1. Absolutely, Rajasekhar. We understand that as LPG fuel becomes increasingly limited in supply, the ones with the least resources already will be hit the hardest. That’s one of the reasons that we aim to assist the rural communities of India. In turn, we also help the environment. It’s win-win!
      Thank you for the comment!

  9. An initiative with a lot of potential to address the basic energy needs ! Hope you scale it up well.

    1. Yaswanth, this is a problem that needs to be met, true. We believe that everyone should have fair access to the essentials of living, and if we can lighten the burden of just a few honest, hard-working people while also cleaning up our atmosphere then all of our efforts will be worth it. The funding from this competition would be a great stepping stone in the direction of reaching out to the millions of households in rural India that face this problem.
      Thanks for your support, friend.

  10. Very good initiative taken by your team… I feel pleasure to see it … Provide biogas to them and save environment..also improved health and wealth of this family 👪..

    1. Thank you Keyur! Improving the health of the user is also an aim of ours. Indoor air pollution caused by the burning of solid fuels and LPGs contributes to millions of deaths each year in India alone. Biogas would solve this problem as well. Thanks for your support!

  11. I have been in touch from the very beginning and I must say, you guys are really doing a great work… addressing sustainable rural development. All the Best

    1. Rahul, thank you for the long-term support. People like you give us the strength to move forward. We feel that rural India is where the sustainable revolution will happen.

    1. Impact is what we aim for! We love the Earth, and would love more than anything to see it’s condition improve for the future generation of inhabitants.

  12. Quincy this is such a great initiative that you and your team have work so hard for. I hope and pray that you will get the funding to keep it going to help as many people as you can and to keep our earth as clean as we can. Great work. Keep it up. Love you.

    1. Thanks, Johnna. Your support of our work is held with the greatest regard. The funding of our project would set forth ripples of sustainability that will crash on the shore of the future in great swells and tides.

  13. Keep up the good work, Quincy! To whom much is given, much is expected. Thank you for sharing your talents around the globe. Good luck with this project. Love you!

    1. Thanks, Nannie. I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why we maximize all of our resources to their greatest potential when we go forth to make our impact. That’s what SustainEarth is all about. Thanks for all your support!

    1. Cheers, Bobbi. The greatest reward we could receive is the knowledge that we helped a few people in a significant way. Thanks for your support!

  14. I always knew a guy like you who I went to high school with would do great things for the world! You’re awesome man keep it up!

  15. This is amazing Quincy and so are you! You’re going to change the world and you’ll always have my support! So proud of you and your team.

    1. Thanks Camden. How is your project up in Delhi coming along? It was great to meet a fellow American as equally interested in sustainable development in country!

    1. People are why we do what we do, Donnie. We want to ease some burdens and also ensure that we have a place to inhabit in the future. Thanks for your support!

  16. I love the exponential and sustainable nature of this project. I think of it like a retirement account. The larger the base with which you start, the greater the exponential effect decades later. We need to get serious and practical about climate change, so thanks for digging your heels in with this project.

    1. Thank you Justin. We’ve mulled over the model for countless hours trying to make it work. We thought, “If a unit produces two valuable commodities where only one is used – we could make these units pay for themselves.”
      Exactly like a retirement account. That’s why we’re doing all we can to receive funding for the initial batch of units. The more we have right now, the more rapidly we will expand, allowing us to scale up on business and reduce on cost of materials by buying in bulk quantities.
      You’re absolutely right… Climate change is an immediate threat to our planet. We want to stop it in it’s tracks.
      Thank you for your thoughts, Justin.

    1. I believe that good intentions are benign until acted on, and depending how they’re acted on can be harmful or fantastic. We’re doing our best to take the right approach and have a benevolent impact on our community. Thanks for the support, Chandan!

  17. Thats how I got to know you. Definitely, with an age of just 18 you are a guide for others.
    Great project and sustainable goals. I hope you succeed further and have an impact on the population and the environment. I am sure that these 5000 USD could not be in better hands.

    1. Thank you, Stefan. Age is not relevant to my vision of life. We also hope that we can make a great change in this community. Your confidences are warranted. Cheers, bud!

  18. Great work Sustain Earth!! Your solution will definitely change the perspective and utility of biogas in India and world.

    1. That’s something that we really want to make happen Rahul… One of the reasons that we began in this field is because we were able to see that Biogas is a fantastic technology that is criminally underutilized by the nation and abroad. We mean to fix that by changing the aesthetic of the entire thing. Thank you so much for your support!

  19. Great idea. I support you. I knew there was something specual about you when I met you in India
    Only 18 but already a globetrotter and so mature.Good luck with this competition!

    1. Thank you Tanja. My only regret is that I don’t know Norwegian, I would love to read your blogs.
      Thanks for the support, it was great to meet you!

  20. This is the kind of project that is going to create real change out there – self sustaining, small scale, addressing needs and solving problems at the same time. Awesome!

  21. This is such a beautiful contribution to our planet for the sake of us even living on it. The Earth and all living things under the sun thank you.

    1. We’re making a stand against the way human beings have treated our planet. We all have to help to stop it – we appreciate your support, Meagan!

  22. It’s not the size of the team that really matters, its not the age that really matters, it’s not the capital size of a startup that really matters, What really matters is a commitment to make an impact in a positive way. SustainEarth has taken Social and Environmental Responsibility to a new level, by redesigning a Biogas for rural self reliance and well beingness and is struggling hard to make GauGas to be in a poor farmer’s reach. Quincy, Nothing really offends me to say that for the work you are doing, you deserves nothing less than winning this campaign, Keep it Up. I am very much obliged to be a part of this Wonderful team.

    1. Incredible, Prashant. Thank you so much for that beautiful message. Our team may be small, but we are a tight family. Thanks for being in this thing with me, brother. We’ll make a difference yet.

  23. I am so proud of Quincy and the work that he is doing. It will mean a lot to the people of that area. Good luck in all you do.

  24. What a great proposal. I admire your initiative and the way you are trying to help others help themselves.

  25. Quincy, I read every word of your proposal and am so proud of the work you and your colleagues are already doing. So often we first world Westerners, with good intentions, try to help our third world brothers and sisters in impractical and unsustainable ways. It sounds like what you and your colleagues are offering is both practical and sustainable. I hope you succeed beyond expectations!

    1. Exactly. Charity can be poison and good intentions do nothing. That’s why we partner up with the communities – to find out what the real problems are, and then find the most sustainable way to solve them. Thanks for your input, Anita!

  26. Congratulations to all the team of Gau Gas
    Nice design of portable biogas system for cooking purpose. I like the digestion chamber design

  27. Keep up the good work. This is a true step towards sustainability. Hope we all would adopt such means very soon. Many congratulations to your team for your effort and time

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