| Boiling Point No. 30 - April 1993 |
by Lui Hongpeng, Engineer, Project Officer of Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, Ministry of Agriculture, CHINA
By the end of 1990, the Chinese government had selected 786 pilot counties, one third of the whole country, to popularize the improved stoves. 129 million improved stoves were built - that means nearly 58% of rural households had new stoves to cook on and 18 million rural households own the commercialized stoves.
Commercialized stoves means that the whole or parts of improved stoves are made in factories and sold in shops. Since 1988, the Chinese government has supplemented by 50% the stoves commercialization proportion in its National Improved Stoves Pilot County Evaluation Criteria (formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture), in order to promote quality and high efficiency as well as strengthen the results of stoves dissemination. Thus, stoves commercialization has gained great attention and developed rapidly.
Institutions and organizations at different levels began to research and produce various stoves to suit the different cooking/food habits in rural households. Some of these were welcomed by farmers and country Rural Energy Extension Offices - responsible for improved stove promotion. For instance, the NG-I/NG-II firewood saving stoves which could be installed by mould. A national centre (NTC) was set up by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1990 to test the efficiency and quality of firewood and coal saving stoves for rural households.
Improved Stoves Commercialized Constraints
Although the Chinese government subsidized the National Improved Stoves Pilot County for demonstration and technical training, most rural households still cannot afford the new stoves for the following reasons:
• Higher prices The average pace of improved stoves in the markets is 150 yuan (1U$=5.8 yuan). Some stoves with multi-functions are from 30010 500 yuan even to 1,000 yuan. This would be accepted by fanners in coastal areas and suburbs, but not in middle and western where the income of farmers is less than 300 yuan.
• Lack of coordination of production, supply and sale The improved stoves manufacturing is a new industry, still lacking techniques and financial support. In addition, there are some different customs from place to place, especially in China with about 1 billion population in rural areas. Retail sellers know little about the distribution structures and cannot react quickly when users have trouble with their stoves.
• Transportation Most of the stoves are heavy and large and easily damaged and so are difficult to transport long distances. Generally, the distribution network for a factory is about 50 to 100km.