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close this bookBoiling Point No. 22 - August 1990 (ITDG - ITDG, 1990, 44 p.)
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The Bakery Programme - A Successful Way of Food Commercialization

by Jurgen Usinger, GATE/GTZ Consultant

The Domestic Energy Saving Project (DESP) was started in 1985 in Peshawar to work with Afghan Refugees who had come from wartorn Afghanistan to the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Activities of the DESP in the past 5 years have centered around:

· the establishment of fuel saving bakeries,
· the dissemination of fuel saving cookie' stoves,
· the construction of clay domed houses as an alternative to wooden roof houses,
· implementation of an energy education campaign.

Commercialization of bread or nan production often occurs in a situation when rising biomass prices dramatically increase production costs for home bakers. Commercially centralised baking makes more efficient use of expensive biomass resources and therefore competes with low productive homebaking. It can thus be said that commercialization generates income and saves biomass fuels.

The steady increase of prices for wood or other biomass has still not reached a very critical state in Pakistan or Afghanistan and the bakery programme anticipates a development which is likely to happen within the next ten or twenty years. It could contribute to preventing intensification of the crisis and could benefit fuel saving programmes.

Within the last five years the project has managed to establish more than 315 operating bakeries, thus generating more than 880 jobs. Traditionally bakeries in Pakistan are established exclusively in town areas, where biomass fuels are difficult to get. Project bakeries are established out of towns in villages and Afghan refugee camps. Like the traditional bakeries, project- founded bakeries do two types of bread baking:

· Own dough baking, where the baker buys flour, processes it and sells the finished, baked nan
· Raking of dough brought by customers, where the baker is only paid for baking the nan.

For a better verification of the bakeries' performance, a study was carried out from July '89 until October '89 with the following objectives:

· to analyse the impact of the DESP bakery programme on different levels (ecology/energy, socio-economy, health/social/cultural).

· to determine the framework conditions under which the transferability of the experience guinea in the DESP to other projects can be ensured.

As a result of this study the most important findings on the impact of the bakery programme are summarised below:

Fuel Savings

Households save 67% of their fuel consumption if they change their habit from homebaking to bakery visits. Including the amount of wood consumed in bakeries for the production of the respective demand of households, the net fuel saving achieved at the local area level is 43%.

Project bakeries with a production level between 40 - 120 kg of dough per baking save about 20 - 25% of fuelwood compared to traditional bakeries with the same production level.

Nan is the local type of flat bread, which is baked in a cylindrical oven, the tandoor.

The reduction of fuel in the target area through the bakery programme is comparable to 3% of the estimated total, required demand of the 2 million Afghan refugees in the target area.

Income Generation and Employment

Households which purchase wood benefit economically from bringing dough to the bakeries instead of baking their nan in a tandoor at home. The monthly savings vary between 15 and 78 Rs. The level of savings depends on whether the households previously used a tandoor alone or whether they shared it with one or several families.

The profit of the baker in project bakeries varies between 2,500 - 3,500 Rs. per month. The average income of employees in bakeries is comparable to the minimum wage (25 its.) of an unskilled labourer in the NWFP.

About 3 jobs and incomes can be generated per operating bakery.


Health problems, which affected the women due to homebaking in more than 14,000 households, have either been substantially reduced or have vanished completely.

315 bakers and their employees in project bakeries have healthier and better working conditions than their colleagues in traditional bakeries.

Concentrations of toxic gases, such as those which arise in traditional bakeries, are reduced in project bakeries and are below the European norms for concentrations at working places.

Taken as a whole, the Bakery Programme represents an effective measure for reducing fuelwood consumption in a homebaking household society.

The following profile of the target group forms the ideal framework conditions for the programme:

· Daily baking of nan in tandoors
· Wood is purchased for baking needs
· Agricultural waste is not used to a large extent as baking fuel by the target group
· Potential demand of filly households near the intended bakery site.

What remained an unsolved question was whether the calculated fuel savings do in fact lead to the desired reduction of cut biomass or whether these are unknown or incalculable cycles. The assessment of the actual reduced cutting rate of biomass and its impact on the ecological system is very difficult to verify as long as no reliable data exists about field cycles and the importance of biomass cutting for fuel.

However, the survey clearly indicated that apart from its potential impact on the ecological system, the programme also serves a range of other purposes. The achievements in the income generation sector are especially outstanding. Considering that all the bakeries are working completely independently of the project, the programme is proving to be highly successful in generating income and employment. The incomes of the bakery owners are comparable with those of highly qualified workers or teachers.

Another very important aspect of the programme is the impact on the health of women and bakers. Baking bread in a household is mostly done by the lower status women because of its unsocial working conditions. These women often suffer from many pains and acute respiratory infections (ARI) caused by exposure to toxic gases and inhaled suspended particles whilst baking. Symptoms such as headaches, respiratory diseases, and nausea appear. High CO concentrations as measured at the baking sites are especially dangerous for pregnant women and can cause damage to the foetus. The graph below shows the concentrations of total suspended particles (TSPs) and CO - concentrations during baking in households, traditional bakeries and project bakeries.

The concentration of TSP's in bakeries was somewhat higher because of high concentrations of flour dust. Nevertheless the TSP concentrations in project bakeries were even lower than in the households and there is such a significant difference between traditional and project bakeries that this aspect could serve as justification of the programme by itself. Providing nearly 15,000 women with a possibility of safe preparation of bread in the bakeries is the broadest measurable impact of the programme.

Fig 5 - Average TSP&CO Concentrations in Homebaking Households &Bakeries

Despite the previously stated positive impact of the project, there are still a number of possibilities for improving effective project implementation due to the shortcomings in the areas of:

· oven technique (construction, insulation and installation)
· training of bakers (operation of ovens, technical aspects)
· trained procedures and examinations
· field structure (district management, selection of trainees and bakery sites)
· integration with other project activities and sections
· commercialization of oven supply.

Although improvements are still possible, it must never be forgotten that activities such as the bakery programme cannot avoid the coming fuel crisis in Pakistan or Afghanistan, neither can it be adopted to the whole of Pakistan or Afghanistan. It is restricted to the regions where people use tandoors to bake their nan. Neither can it replace the need for political decisions. These should suggest a realistic policy as to how the present ecological crisis could be solved by economic and political means.

The bakery programme and the rest of the project activities should not be used as an excuse for not taking action on a larger scale or at different levels. Instead, the project sets a good example and verifies the limits and the efficiency of development projects in having an input at their specific levels, without being equipped with the far reaching competence to participate in major policy making.