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close this bookGender aspects of woodfuel flows in Sri Lanka (1999)
close this folder4. Gender aspects of the woodfuel flow process in rural areas
View the document4.1 Activities
View the document4.2 The work place/source
View the document4.3 Men and women as two gender categories
View the document4.4 Patterns of involvement in work activities
View the document4.5 Patterns of involvement in woodfuel related activities in the seven villages
View the document4.6 Reasons for women's dominant role in flow activities
View the document4.7 Commercial woodfuel flow for home consumption
View the document4.8 Flow of commercial woodfuel for rural industries
View the document4.9 Woodfuel supply sources and species
View the document4.10 Discussion

4.8 Flow of commercial woodfuel for rural industries

A wide range of rural industries operating at village level has been investigated. These include:

i. Pottery industry;
ii. Bakeries;
iii. Lime kilns, and
iv. Brick kilns.

All these depend on commercial woodfuel. The types used in these industries vary to some extent. The flow patterns are related to the type of wood consumed, location of supply sources, and modes of transport. These industries are located far apart, but in association with motorable roads and potential markets (see Figure 6 for distribution).

(i) Woodfuel flow for pottery industry

Out of the 12 pottery industries identified during the reconnaissance survey, 5 industries were randomly selected for detailed investigation. The study was limited to 5 samples due to time constraints and as it was believed that these 5 had the ability to represent the local situation related to commercial woodfuel flows. All 5 operate as small production units and are primarily home-based or family-based industries. Cooking pots and flower pots are the major goods produced. The primary type of energy used in the pottery industry is woodfuel, but other types such as straw, paddy husk and coconut husks are used as cheap supplementary energy sources. Of the total production cost, energy alone is in the range of 9.5 and 18.7 percent (see Table 24). The fuelwood of jak (Artocarpus heterophyllus), rubber, ginisapu (Michelia champaca), kenda (Macaranga peltata), albizia (Albizia spp.), lunumidella (Melia dubia), amba (Mangifera indica) is used in kilning and there are numerous supply sources.

While all supplementary types are purchased locally, the bulk of the fuelwood requirements are purchased from the local sawmills. Occasionally, they are purchased from homegardens, but as the supply from this source is irregular, industries are reluctant to depend on it. However, when such stocks are available locally, they are relatively cheap and cost about Rs. 0.35 cent per kilogram, including transport the transport cost (exchange rate US$ 1 = Rs. 56.40).

The regular source of supply is the local sawmills. The widespread location of sawmills in the area around Menikhinna town means that small-scale industries rarely experience difficulties in obtaining wood shavings. And the wood shavings are a source of additional income for the sawmills. About 10-15 years ago the mill owners encouraged people to come and collect wood shavings freely to clear the sites. At present nothing is given freely. Still they do not cross-cut the side shavings and do not stock them for sale. This implies that no consistent price is asked for a unit. Instead buyers pay about Rs. 150-175 for a hand-cart load which contains about 600-800 kilograms. The price is decided by the sawmill. The price paid for a kg of wood at saw mills is in the range of Rs. 0.21 0.30 cents. It comes to about Rs. 0.32 to 0.37 cents at the gate of the industries.


TABLE 24: BIO-ENERGY TYPES USED IN POTTERY INDUSTRY AND PERCENTAGE SHARE OF COST SPENT ON ENERGY

Most of the wood shavings come from the timber of homegardens. Trees are either bought directly by the saw mill owners or through local contractors. Occasionally these industries get forest wood transported from outside areas, mainly from the dry zone areas. The cost of wood is relatively high and comes to about 58 cents per kilogram due to the long distance, and the high cost of lorry transport.

Transporters act as intermediaries, with hand carters being most involved. Women's engagement in this process was never mentioned, and the question regarding their engagement was seen as a reflection of the researchers' ignorance of the masculine nature of the task and of the unmanageable nature of the work for a woman.

(ii) Woodfuel flow for bakeries

Of the total of 32 bakeries recorded during the reconnaissance survey, 8 were studied in detail. As in the case of the pottery industry, detailed investigation was limited to 8 due to time constraints and as it was determined that this number could represent the local situation. All the bakeries where interviews took place use round wood shavings and branch wood. No substitutes or supplementary types are used. The bulk of consumption is for baking large batches of bread. All the owners interviewed stated that fuelwood gave the best quality of bread and expressed no intention of switching over to alternative energy types. The cost of energy is in the range of 5.3 - 8.8 percent of the total production cost. None of the bakeries studied depend on their own sources of woodfuel, or on freely gathered wood. So the activities in the process are limited to transportation, and splitting when fairly large girth logs are used.

The price paid for a unit includes the transportation cost, in addition to the price paid for the wood. Nearly 22-30 percent of the price is accounted for by the transportation cost and the remainder is for the wood itself (see Table 25).

TABLE 25: SHARE OF WOODFUEL COST IN BAKERY INDUSTRY

Production unit

Energy

% of total production cost on energy

% share of wood & transport

Wood types (wood shavings, round, branchwood)

Transportation




Wood %

Tran. %



Menikhinna

Wood

58

78

22

Jak
Mango
Rubber
Ginisapu
Kenda
Hawarinuga
Gliricidia
Siyambala
Lunumidella
Palu
Burutha
Welan
Timbiri

Hand cart (from saw mills);
Lorry

Menikhinna

Wood

80

70

30



Menikhinna

Wood

80

78

22



Walala

Wood

53

77

23



Sirimalwatta

Wood

56

78

22



Sirimalwatta

Wood

47

71

29



Yakgahapitiya

Wood

53

80

20



Arangala

Wood

88

80

20



There are two modes of transportation both of which are dominated by men. The first is the transportation of fuelwood in hand-carts from local sources, primarily from saw-mills, and to a lesser extent from homegardens. The saw mill fuelwood is composed of shavings of large logs of various species. Bakeries mostly purchase pruned branch wood from the homegardens sold in cubic metres. The price paid for the wood of saw mills is about 0.32 - 0.37 cents, while for homegarden wood they pay about .042 - 0.49 cents per kilogram (including transport).

The second mode of transportation is lorry transportation - which accounts for less than 10 percent of the total amount consumed. All the bakery owners interviewed mentioned that the flow is not decided by them, so the mechanism operates externally. Nearly 80 - 85 percent of the wood from the outside is forest wood from the Dry Zone. The rest comes from rubber plantations. The cost of fuelwood is relatively high, in fact a high price is paid for forest and rubber wood. The price paid is about 0.58 cents, and sometimes goes up to about 0.65 cents, depending on the transportation cost.

The chief advantage of using locally available woodfuel is that the bakery owners themselves arrange transportation. The price differences stem from the type of wood that bakeries obtain, from what sources and the ways in which bakeries get the fuelwood transported. Although the unit price of homegarden wood and forest wood is relatively high, all the bakeries interviewed mentioned that round wood is preferred. This is due to the ability of round wood from homegardens and forest trees to burn for much longer when compared with the woodfuel that comes from saw mills. Most bakeries using sawmill wood reported that the wood shavings are extremely thin and sometimes are composed more of bark than actual wood. In such situations they tend to use mixed stocks, that is shavings together with round wood.

No traders are involved in the local flow process from homegardens and saw mills. In about 60 percent of the cases it was found that bakery owners directly buy wood from producers and arrange hand-carters to transport it. In about 40 percent of the cases trade cum transportation is done by hand-carters. A few bakeries mentioned that they hire tractors to bring homegarden fuelwood if heavy loads are available. When lorry transportation is involved, which is not often, usually one individual acts as both the trader and transporter.

(iii) Woodfuel flow for lime kilns

It should be pointed out that lime kilning depends on woodfuel alone; no substitutes are used. Of the 18 lime kilns visited during the reconnaissance survey 7 were interviewed for detailed information. Most of these kilns are located close to a dolomite quarry in Digana. Unlike the pottery and bakery industries where multiple types of woodfuel can be used, the lime kilning industry uses coconut logs as the primary woodfuel type. With the deepening scarcity of coconut logs, a small amount of small wood like trimmings of gliricidia (Gliricidia spp.), jak, mango, amarind (Tamarindus indicus), weera (Drypetes sepiaria) etc., are used as a supplement. In acute scarcities, when the delivery of coconut logs is delayed for some reason or other, kilns use small amounts of coconut husk. The lime kilners who were interviewed mentioned that coconut is the preferred wood because it gives a clean white colour, and burns easily.

Among all the commercial woodfuel using industries, the cost of woodfuel in the lime kilning industry is by far the highest. Of the total production cost woodfuel alone comes to about 43-57 percent. The price is determined by the log length and is not sold by weight. A 3-4 feet length of log costs about Rs. 25.00 - 30.00. The conversion of this unit price to weight is difficult due to the variations in weight, even when the logs are of the same length. A few selected measurements show that the price of 1 kilogram of coconut wood is Rs. 1.75 - 2.50. This is the most costly type of woodfuel noted in the whole study. As the industry cannot use alternative wood types, due to the high chance of losing the desired quality of lime, the availability of coconut logs is a decisive factor for the continuity of the lime kiln industry.

Commercial users of coconut logs have to compete with other users as coconut logs are in particularly high demand as sawn timber. This competition is serious because only soft and damaged segments of the trunks are cross-cut and sold for woodfuel, whereas mature harder parts are sawn for timber. The increasing demand for coconut logs for non-energy purposes, and the enforcement of regulations prohibiting coconut felling without legal permits have resulted in reducing the usual supply. While the supplementary types are bought locally, there are two sources from which supplies need to be transported. The sources include local supply and external supply. Local coconut logs are available for sale primarily when palms are felled in homegardens or from large-scale coconut cultivations at land clearings, or during the felling of mature palms for timber. The external supply comes from well-known coconut growing areas like Mawathagama and Kurunegala. The transporters are the main intermediaries, because the logs for fuelwood are considered secondary to the main trunks sold for timber. Either the contractors of palms or plantations cross-cut un-sawn or un-split segments and sell them in lengths. Transporters are the intermediaries providing logs from distant sources. While local palm logs are transported mainly in tractors and by hand-carters from external sources logs are transported in tractors or lorries (see Table 26).

Many activities like felling, cross-cutting trunks to 3-4 feet lengths, stacking, loading and transporting have been noted in the flow process and, quite clearly, no women are involved.

TABLE 26: TYPE OF WOODFUEL USED IN LIME INDUSTRY AND % SHARE OF ENERGY COST

Production unit

Type of energy

% of total cost on energy

Supply source

Main type of wood

Supplement of types

Local sources

Outside (**)

Walala

Wood

50

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

Gliricidia, jak, mango,
Tamarind, weera, palu

Carts/push bought at Rs. 20 per log from producers

Lorry bought at Rs. 15-20

Digana

Wood

48

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

Sometimes coconut husks

"

"

Digana

Wood

57

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

"

"

"

Digana

Wood

58

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

"

"

"

Digana

Wood

50

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

"

"

"

Digana

Wood

57

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

"

"

"

Digana

Wood

43

Locally from Kurunegala

Coconut logs

"

"


* One log is about 3-4 ft, one log cost about Rs. 30/=;

* Contractors of palms sell young segments separately as logs of 3-4 ft. lengths to lorries coming from production areas.

* Kiln owners arrange transport to buy from contractors of the coconut plantations.

(iv) Woodfuel flow for brick kilns

The most widespread woodfuel based industry in the area is brick kilning. The brief reconnaissance survey enumerated about 142 brick kilns in the area, of which 13 were interviewed in detail for this study. Among commercial woodfuel users, the second highest energy cost is experienced by brick kilners due to the heavy use of woodfuel. Between 30-35 percent of the total production cost goes on woodfuel. While lime kilns prefer to use coconut logs to produce clean white lime, the brick kilns want to produce bricks of reddish brown colour.

Although all kiln owners interviewed mentioned their preference for wood, there is a marked increase in the use of non-wood substitutes. These include paddy husk, coconut husk and coconut fronds. These substitutes help reduce the amount of wood used, but no one completely depends on these substitutes, most of which are available locally.

The supply is primarily from two sources: the local saw mills and homegardens (see Table 27). The price and flow patterns are similar to those previously discussed because the supply is from the same sources. One special feature is that whenever possible kilns try to add at least a few pieces of wood of gadumba (Trema orientales) and mango to give the bricks an attractive colour.

The key intermediaries are the traders or traders cum transporters who directly buy wood from homegardens and saw mills and deliver it to the kilns. When wood is directly purchased by the users, then the intermediaries act as transporters. Seventy percent of the saw mill wood is transported in tractors, while about 68 percent of homegarden wood which is composed of billets, branches, roots etc., is also transported in tractors. The remainder is supplied by hand carters.


TABLE 27: TYPE OF WOODFUEL USED IN BRICK INDUSTRIES AND % SHARE OF ENERGY COST