| Boiling Point No. 20- December 1989 |
Summary of a study conducted and compiled by I. Thiagu (Centre for Appropriate Technology, Tamil Nadu South India) and Peter Young (ITDG UK) in February/March 1989.
There are five or six retailers/wholesalers and a large number of general stores selling kerosene stoves in Nagercoil town. Two types are available:(1) the pressure stoves (mainly from Bombay and Madras); and (2) the multiwick stoves (mainly supplied from Bombay and Madurai). There is also a local manufacturer in Nagercoil who produces and sells 110-120 wick stoves per month.
At two retailers the price of wick stoves ranges from Rs.26 to Rs.220, while pressure stoves cost between Rs.110 and Rs.250 (Rs.16.61 = $1). The good durability of these wick stoves is perceived as an important advantage by customers, and even cheaper models last for between 2-5 years. The pressure stove lasts for 3 years, and requires frequent replacement of the burner stabilisers at a cost of Rs.25-53.
According to figures based on sales at two outlets, and an estimate by the manufacturer, between 540 and 1000 wick stoves are sold by retailers per month. Although the manufacturer predicted that sales of wick stoves would rise by 10% annually, the retailers thought that the rationing of kerosene and low income of consumers would inhibit an increase. Total sales and potential market penetration are difficult to assess from such a limited response. Also the unknown varying frequency of use and durability of stoves affects demand. Nevertheless, it can be roughly estimated that the number of kerosene stoves sold over 5 years (the maximum life expectancy) is unlikely to exceed 60,000 (there are at least 110,000 households in Nagercoil). Sales to households living outside Nagercoil would be lower because wood is widely available from the gardens.
In conclusion, although kerosene stoves are not the main means of cooking for most households in Nagercoil town, the majority will probably have one for occasional use. This would be in addition to the most commonly used stoves - the U chula and double U chula. The latter costs Rs.27 and burns wood, which is purchased at Rs.0.70 a kilo.
Gas stoves are mostly supplied by gas agencies in Nagercoil. Consequently, the sales at retail outlets are low. In one month three traders sold a total of 23 stoves at prices ranging from Rs.580 to Rs.1280. They revealed that since there is a scarcity in the supply of gas, demand for these stoves is low.
Two gas agencies sell 5,500 cylinders a month (at Rs.56.65 each) and jointly supply gas to 14,000 households. Both claimed that they could rely on a continuous supply of gas (except that there was a shortage for twenty days the year before). One agency, on the other hand, pointed out that the main problems arise during the manufacturing stage and transportation of gas cylinders.
Ed note:- Only relatively wealthy urban households will be in a position to afford gas stoves, but the popularity of kerosene models might affect the potential demand for improved fuel-efficient woodburning stoves. This information should not be taken as representative of India generally.