| Boiling Point No. 10 - August 1986 |
Heat energy from the burning of biomass is a vital resource for a whole range of village level food processing activities and not simply for home consumption. Biomass provides the source of energy for much of the World's baking, brewing, fish smoking, rice parboiling and puffing, oil processing, sugar and syrup making and street foods.
Without cheap sources of energy, many of these small industries, so vital as income-earners and employment creators in much of the Third World, would not be able to continue. Government statistics often underestimate these village-level energy uses. People do not volunteer information about income-earning activities to a Government official for obvious reasons and most village industry biomass use gets subsumed into domestic consumption.
Where a survey was carried out by a non-governmental organisation in Kenya specifically to identify the wood energy demand of rural cottage industries, the results were surprising: in 1980, nearly 2 million tonnes of firewood was used in rural cottage industries, and it is likely that this is an underestimate.
In this issue, we look at a range of special stoves, concentrating mainly on institutional/community stoves, baking, brewing and fish smoking. What becomes clear from reading these articles is that like domestic stoves - the problems are not as straightforward as simple fuel efficiency. Any activity - any business - has to be looked at in its totality and all its problems addressed in an integrated fashion. Tackling fuel efficiency in isolation will surely lead to failure.