As one way of diversifying sources of household energy in rural households and empowering communities financially, the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) is implementing a “Techno-economic feasibility of decentralized production of bio-ethanol using wastes from cassava processing” project that will see rural households utilise ethanol as a household fuel in Nkhotakota district.
The university’s research arm, the Industrial Research Center (IRC) on Friday handed over ethanol run stoves to selected 36 households in Zidyana and Linga EPAs in the district.
MUST Executive Dean Dr Davies Mweta said the handing over of the stoves mark the beginning of an assessment where ethanol is tested at household level as a domestic fuel and the suitability of the stove to the Malawian cooking environment.
“Some of this project’s components include extracting are ethanol from cassava peels by local farmers and sell it to Ethanol Company Limited (ETHCO) for production of fuel ethanol which is blended with petrol to run motor vehicles. Through this arrangement, peasant cassava farmers from Nkhotakota will be able to improve their livelihoods by earning money from the sales,” he said.
He said for the stoves, IRC wants “to offer these farmers and later all Malawians an alternative source of energy for cooking with the aim of saving the environment” as well as improving the health of women and children through improved cooking environment.
Mweta said the pilot project will also help IRC collect data from ethanol stove users on how it can be modified to suit our cooking styles.
The current stoves were imported from Ethiopia and their design is in line with food and cooking styles of Ethiopians hence the need to adapt them.
“This will lead to local production of the stoves thereby making them affordable. We expects the communities to appreciate the benefits of using the ethanol stoves as compared to firewood, especially in areas of cleanliness, convenience and health,” he said.
ETHCO Operations Manager Derek Zamaere said the company is ready to work with the farmers as it is there to assist in any program that will help the environment.
“About 95 percent of Malawians relay on charcoal and firewood which have contributed to massive deforestation in the district, so the use of ethanol for cooking is a good replacement.
“We are committed to help the project because there is a very big demand for ethanol in the country and we are trying to increase the production base and this is one way of doing that,” he said.
Nkhotakota district Director of Planning and Development Griffin Mlenga praised the project saying it will help save the environment .
“Due to rampant cut down of the trees in the district, the forests that we had in the past are long gone. Women are walking long distances in search of firewood exposing them to various dangers. This project will not only help solve the burden they are going through but also enable the communities participate in reforestation,” he said.
The IRC is implementing the project with financial support from Capacity Building for Managing Climate Change (CABMACC) in Malawi.
CABMACC is a government programme bankrolled by Malawi and the Royal Norwegian Government and is coordinated through the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :