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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

4.1 Activities

Woodfuel flow mechanisms vary in association with woodfuel consumption patterns, whether the woodfuel is for self-consumption or is to be marketed, and with the nature of supply sources and their location. The flow mechanism can be broken down into 6 categories. These include:

i. harvesting of woody parts for fuelwood and, in a very few cases, the felling of trees;
ii. trimming and cross cutting;
iii. bundling and carrying/transportation;
iv. splitting;
v. gathering of dead wood and carrying; and
vi. maintaining stocks at the backyard in wood sheds.

In most cases these activities do not always follow the same sequence but rather depend on where the work is performed etc.

4.2 The work place/source

Neither all woodfuel requirements, nor the wood of all species, come from a single supply source. The sources of supply or the production systems that are used by the households covered in this study include:

i. Homegardens;
ii. Fences and hedges;
iii. 'Household lands located away from home;
iv. Non-household lands owned by the State and private individuals.

The use of these multiple sources by the gatherers depends on their locations. One of the important features is the changing patterns in the behaviour of both genders among these supply sources. All the records show that in the non-commercial sector homegardens are the predominant source of supply, followed by fences/hedges (see Table 12).

The data gathered from 105 households, 15 each from 7 villages were tabulated for 3 types of analysis. The first was to examine the level of engagement of men and women in the activities which take place at the supply sources. The second was to identify the behavioural patterns of the two gender groups, and to determine the extent to which men and women attend to the tasks alone and jointly. The third was to see whether similar patterns could be noted across the villages studied.

4.3 Men and women as two gender categories

The engagement of men and women tends to vary among sources because all 105 households do not depend on all 4 sources of supply, or only on one source. Among all sources, homegardens are the main source of supply for all 105 households; the next most important source is fences and hedges which are used by about 89 households. The non- household lands and other household lands are used by 14 households each (see Table 12).

TABLE 12: MEN'S AND WOMEN'S ENGAGEMENT IN THE WOODFUEL FLOW PROCESS

#of records

Homegardens (%)

Fences/hedges (%)

Household lands

Non-household land

Activity

Total

105

89

14

14

Harvesting

Men

58 (55%)

35 (39%)

4 (28%)

1 (7%)


Women

98 (93%)

87 (98%)

14 (100%)

13 (93%)


Total

105

89

14

14

Trimming & Cross-cutting

Men

36 (34%)

28 (31%)

5 (36%)

0 (00%)


Women

104 (100%)

89(100%)

14 (100%)

14 (100%)


Total

105

89

14

14

Bundling & carrying

Men

33 (31%)

21 (23%)

3 (21%)

0 (00%)


Women

105 (100%)

89 (100%)

14 (100%)

14 (100%)


Total

105

89

14

14

Spliting

Men

54 (51%)

37 (41%)

5 (36%)

0 (00%)


Women

98 (93%)

89 (100%)

14 (100%)

14 (100%)


Total

105

89

14

14

Gathering deadwood

Men

09 (8%)

9 (10%)

1 (7%)

0 (00%)


Women

105 (100%)

89 (100%)

14 (100%)

14 (100%)


An overwhelming feature is that in terms of involvement in the series of activities and use of multiple sources women outnumber men. Of the total of 105 households men reported their involvement in harvesting fuelwood from homegardens in 58 households, while the figure was 98 households for women. In the same source, out of 105 households, men reported their involvement in trimming and cross-cutting in only 36 households, while the figure was 104 households for women. Thirty- three households reported the involvement of men in bundling and carrying the fuelwood from homegardens while all 105 households reported women's involvement. All 105 households reported women's involvement in the gathering of dead wood, whereas men's involvement in this work was reported only in 9 households.

When compared, women's involvement in harvesting, trimming, carrying, splitting and gathering the homegarden products is much higher than men's. This is so for all supply sources. Men's involvement in using non-household supply sources is nil except in one case where men are involved in harvesting. At the household level, woodfuel stocks are managed by women in all the 105 households, while men are also involved in this task in only 32. In 21 households men carry the purchased wood, while women do so in only 1 household. Where excess is produced women are rarely involved in selling it. Men's exceptionally low involvement in gathering fallen wood and headloading can be related to gender ideology. Their involvement in this work which is conventionally done by women is considered disgraceful. The household sphere is dominated by women, but the extent of men's involvement in household related work depends on the nature of the work itself.

4.4 Patterns of involvement in work activities

The analysis was extended to underscore the behavioural patterns, particularly to disclose the patterns of involvement in work activity. Three categories identified in the analysis include: 'women alone'; 'men alone'; and 'men and women jointly' (from the same household). When one examines the two major source of supply, namely homegardens and fences and hedges, which are used by 105 households and 89 households respectively, it is clear that the involvement of 'women alone' in each type of activity stands out (see Table 13). The overall patterns of involvement in woodfuel related activities are presented in Table 14 and lead to the conclusion that among the 3 categories referred to 'women alone' dominates. Their joint involvement implies that men and women from the same household work together as necessary, and no rigid boundaries can be seen between men's and women's work. Yet the involvement of 'men alone' is less than the other two categories, and also points to the fact that across all activities the involvement of 'men alone' is in the range of 6-25 percent of households in homegardens, and between 7-19 percent of all households in fences and hedges. In contrast, the involvement of 'women alone' is in the range of 43-85 percent of all households in homegardens and 45-74 percent of all households in fences and hedges. No activity is the exclusive domain of men or women. Men are least involved in gathering deadwood, which is regularly carried out by women to procure fuelwood for domestic cooking. In fact, women's involvement is highest in this activity compared to other activities.

The management of fuelwood stocks is important in the household sector. A substantial volume of fuelwood brought either in headloads from distant sources or harvested from homegardens and fences/hedges are stacked for subsequent use. All 105 households covered in this study have 'firewood sheds', most of which are located in the backyard either adjoining a kitchen wall or completely separated from the house. Nearly 55 percent of the households have properly constructed outside sheds with permanent roofing, but with open sides. Of the remainder, 25 percent are outside extensions with very low roofs adjoining kitchens. Twenty percent are poorly constructed temporary sheds with no solid roofing located outside.

The management of household stocks is a coping strategy, adopted by women in particular to avoid problems of acute hardship and also to ensure a supply of dry fuel. Although the volume of stocks tends to vary remarkably, fuelwood sheds are reported to be an essential household unit. A number of reasons for this were pointed out by the respondents. Sixty eight percent reported that it is an essential physical unit to store the excess harvest or freely collected fallen wood. Fuelwood stocks are kept in sheds for relatively long periods (8-10 months). The better quality fuel as well as the residues like coconut fronds and husks are stocked in sheds. The lack of exposure to sun and rain reduces decaying. Indeed all the respondents pointed to the practical difficulties that they experience during the rainy seasons when gathering, headloading and burning wet wood are cumbersome tasks.

Many women agreed that fuelwood stocks are a symbol of prosperity and also food security. Symbolically, fuelwood stocks point to regular food preparation, and a household's ability to meet a basic need - energy for cooking. 72 percent of women pointed out that buffer stocks are a relief particularly during times of sickness and in times of scarcity, and on occasions when additional fuelwood is needed to prepare food for social events. The gender specific features noted here are the women's concerns over energy security and their heavy engagement in managing household stocks. A point made by women is that empty firewood sheds are a symbol of a woman's ignorance of her conventional responsibilities.

During the dry periods in the year stocks are enriched by keeping a portion of headloads and pruned wood from the homegardens and fences. Twigs, small branchwood and residues, the segments that get decayed easily, are used first. Coconut fronds are also an important component of household stocks and are used for kilning hearths.


TABLE 13: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT OF MEN AND WOMEN IN 4 PRODUCTION SOURCES


TABLE 14: OVERALL PATTERN OF INVOLVEMENT IN WORK IN PRODUCTION SOURCES

Men's low level of involvement in stock management and women's heavy involvement reflect a stereotyped division of responsibilities. Only 32 men mentioned their involvement in the management of fuelwood stocks for subsequent use while all women in the households surveyed agreed that stock management is closely connected with their domestic chores and gender roles. In addition, household stocks of a limited amount of processed (cut and split) wood help them to cope with limited kichen space and relieve women from the burden of gathering fuelwood daily. This implies that while the long term goal is to avoid gathering during unfavourable weather conditions, the short term goal is to reduce time and energy spent on daily fuelwood gathering. Fuelwood is gathered mostly as a free commodity, therefore stock enrichment and maintenance activities at household level depend on the availability of an excess; but it should be noted that undertaking such activities is strongly motivated by the fact that they are considered to be effective strategies for coping with practical difficulties.

Activities related to stock maintenance are generally considered to be women's work and part of their domestic chores. Such activities include cross cutting, sorting, piling, enriching and use (see Table 15). In addition to stereotyped views of women's work and of it being women's responsibility to ensure energy security, it was found that two other factors also account for women's dominant involvement in these activities. The first is that these tasks are not considered 'masculine' in nature. Cross-cutting of branches is not considered an exclusively masculine task even though an axe or a knife is used. The fact that round branchwood or fronds rather than split wood is piled means that men's labour is excluded. Furthermore, men are not involved at all in sorting wood which takes place at the stage of choosing better segments to be stocked, or choosing dried/old stocks or small wood for immediate use. Women also play a dominant role at the stage of using stacked wood - only 4 households reported that men make use of household stocks. The second reason is that such work is only done as required, in particular when an excess is gathered/harvested. The women, whose work is mostly house-centred often combine the activities pertaining to woodfuel stock management with their domestic chores.

TABLE 15: GENDER SPECIFIC FEATURES RELATED TO WOODFUEL STOCK MAINTENANCE

Activity

Men alone

Women alone

Jointly

Cross-cutting

2

73

30

Sorting

--

105

-

Piling

-

95

8

Enriching

-

83

22

Use

-

101

4

This picture points to a number of conclusions related to gender. The first is that among all activities men's involvement is highest in harvesting and splitting of fuelwood, and these are considered hard work. The second is that men and women are jointly engaged in these two activities (see Table 13). The third is that women dominate two categories of activities: the bundling of fuelwood, and the gathering of deadwood. These patterns are common to homegardens, and fences and hedges, which are the sources most commonly used. It is difficult to generalize about non-household lands (which are used by only 14 households) due to their limited use.

4.5 Patterns of involvement in woodfuel related activities in the seven villages

This general picture described above seems relevant to all 7 villages. In all 7 villages, women play major roles in all activities (Tables 16-22). Men are involved primarily in harvesting and splitting round wood, and they are less involved in trimming, gathering deadwood, bundling and carrying in headloads and stock maintenance (see Table 14). The overall pattern emerging from the villages studies leads to the conclusion that women dominate the woodfuel flow process. Men make a smaller contribution and in some cases this is made jointly with women (Table 23).

This allocation of tasks by gender is associated with the conventional ideology pertaining to masculine and feminine types of work. Although men are not the main actors they are primarily engaged in harvesting fuelwood when tree climbing, felling and large branch pruning are involved. It is the traditional norm that women do not climb trees, so any harvesting requiring climbing is considered men's work. Women themselves believe that such work is unmanageable. Many also mentioned that splitting wood cannot be done by women alone because splitting large billets is a hard task. The process involves cutting large logs into billets of fairly short lengths ranging between 3-4 feet using either handsaws or axes to cross cut logs. The tools used depend on the size of the logs, the availability of better tools like hand saws, and also the availability of labour (two people must work together to use hand saws for cross-cutting). None of these tasks is considered suitable for women. However, if the branches or the logs are of small diameter then both cross-cutting and splitting are attended to by women and if the wood is of manageable size then cross cutting and splitting are done by women alone.

It is difficult to quantify the diameter of the logs or wood that women can cross-cut and split. The conventional ideology , as repeatedly mentioned by men and women consulted in the survey, is that in general both these tasks are too 'hard' for women to attend to systematically. However, 18% of the women in the sample mentioned that they split large size logs for self-consumption when men's labour is not available and when no other wood substitutes are available.

4.6 Reasons for women's dominant role in flow activities

A well demonstrated fact here is that all the ground level activities, including branch pruning up to a reachable height, are dominated by women across the study area. The reasons for this are:

i. Tree felling and the upper level branch pruning, which are considered hard tasks, are not done regularly. Coppicing of Gliricidia, which is predominant in fences and hedges is done from the ground level. The situation is the same regarding pruning of coffee, cocoa and the lower branches of woody perennials. So coppicing and pruning of woody perennials in homegardens, and fences and hedges are usually done by women.

ii. The use of split-wood, the large size billets in particular, for domestic cooking is not found to be common. Splitting of branchwood, fronds, coconut leaves etc., is not done using heavy tools, so women themselves attend to it when needed.

iii. Fuelwood for self-consumption is not considered to be men's responsibility. Bundling wood and headloading it is conventionally thought of as the women's domain. In addition, the low levels of women's formal employment and the fact that they are responsible for household centred occupations etc., makes it seem natural for them to procure fuelwood for household consumption.

iv. Nearly 89 percent of the respondents believe that these activities are a way for women to contribute to the household economy. Although the value is not monetized, it helps reduce the burden on the household budget. Even in situations where alternative clean energy can be consumed for domestic cooking women themselves are motivated to use non-commercial resources to save family expenditure.

v. Another factor which accounts for women's greater control over the flow process is related to the possibility of attending to it either in combination with other work or simultaneously with other work.

4.7 Commercial woodfuel flow for home consumption

Woodfuel for household consumption rarely comes through the commercial flow mechanisms as it is generally supplied by free gathering from household lands and outside sources. Of the total of 105 households, 22, or nearly 10 percent, purchase some fuelwood (see Table 11). No incidents of fuelwood purchases have been noted in Gomagoda, and only one incident each has been recorded in the 3 villages of Udagama, Narampanawa and Panwila. The highest number of purchases was recorded in Pitawala and Rajawella.

There are two primary sources of commercial fuelwood. These include a few excess producers in the respective villages and the sawmills. Of the total of 22 households, 16 purchase from saw mills, so wood-shavings are the available type. Men are engaged in piling and transporting wood shavings in hand carts. The flow mechanism is quite simple but is outside what is conventionally considered to be the women's domain. In about 6 cases where the supply is from local producers the situation is, unusually, dominated by women. Three types of produce are included, namely coconut branches, coconut husks and the branchwood of tree perennials. Women pile up the excess and sell the stocks to people in the neighbourhood. The mode of transport is headloading so women's engagement in buying from the local small-scale producers is notable. The average price paid for a kg of wood shavings is about 21-30 cents, while 0-20-0-25 cents is paid for a coconut husk and, 0.60 cents-1.00 rupee for a coconut branch.

This situation points to another gender specific feature associated with the mode of transport involved. When wood bundles and husks packed in gunny sacks are to be carried, headloading is the mode, and it is exclusively done by women, whereas when wood is purchased from saw mills in comparatively larger quantities, the task is exclusively performed by men. The primary mode of transportation is handcarts and no women reported that they were engaged in pulling them.


TABLE 16: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WOOD ENERGY RELATED ACTIVITIES IN PITAWALA


TABLE 17. PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WOOD ENERGY RELATED ACTIVITIES IN UDAGAMA


TABLE 18: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WOOD ENERGY RELATED ACTIVITIES IN RAJAWELLA


TABLE 19: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WOOD ENERGY RELATED ACTIVITIES IN GOMAGODA


TABLE 20: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WOOD ENERGY RELATED ACTIVITIES IN RAMPANAWA


TABLE 21: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WOOD ENERGY RELATED ACTIVITIES IN PANWILA


TABLE 23: PATTERNS OF INVOLVEMENT IN WORK ACTIVITIES IN 7 VILLAGES

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

4.9 Woodfuel supply sources and species

The woodfuel flow in Kundasale area exhibits 3 main features. The first is the local consumption of locally produced woodfuel. The second feature is that all local consumers depend on a range of supply sources, so trees in agricultural and non-agricultural areas, and grown and self-regenerated ones are of immense importance. The third feature is the lack of linkages between these rural areas and Kandy urban area. As a result, the woodfuel trade in the rural areas is separated from the urban trade. The trade is not organised, so individuals arrange their own supplies.

Tree planting practices are widespread in the area and almost all the households interviewed in this study grow trees that contribute to meeting their fuelwood needs. In fact, homegardens across the country are more accurately described as tree gardens. The wide use of coconut in food preparation also provide them with coconut shells which are burnt with wood sticks, husks, twigs etc. These traditional practices are important aspects to be understood because the flow patterns and the users' dependence on woodfuel trade partly depends on what is needed and available.

Although, consumption and supply are not quantified, the nature of woodfuel supply sources were investigated during the interviews. A general pattern is associated with the production systems owned by the households. Supplies are primarily from the homegardens and fences and hedges. Homegardens and live fences are widespread in the whole area. The isolated trees in farmlands, reservations etc., are supplementary sources of supply.

A noteworthy feature is that no households heavily depend on traders. Nor do households tend to buy stacked wood. Locally purchased woodfuel types are produced in homegardens. In about 63 percent of the reported purchases, coconut branches, fronds and husks have been noted, while in the remaining cases the purchases are from saw mills. The saw mill owners interviewed in this study revealed that the saw logs primarily come from homegardens. So the wood shavings purchased for domestic cooking and other industries are produced in homegardens although the saw mills act as intermediaries.

The fuelwood used in rural industries is mainly locally produced. The pattern noted here is that stacked wood is sold in bulk to industries, whereas unstacked wood is sold for domestic cooking. This difference is also noted in transportation. Transportation for industries takes place in relatively larger quantities in carts and tractors, while headloading is for self-consumption.

Another noteworthy feature is that no one mentioned that they grow or utilize species solely for fuelwood in the study area. Fuelwood is one of the main outputs, but often reported as a by-product of trees. The people involved in the community forestry project in Digana mentioned that only the branchwood of eucalyptus is used for fuelwood and trees are primarily grown for timber. This means that most of the wood is obtained at times of coppicing and branch pruning.

A wide range of species are used. According to the respondents, all species, except ficus which has some religious significance among Buddhists, are used as fuelwood, but actual use depends on availability. Field enumerations showed that nearly 39 species have been listed by the households and at least 15 species have been recorded from each village. The most widely recorded species include gliricidia with 96 recordings, jak with 83 recordings, coconut with 44 recordings, sapu with 43, coffee with 42 recordings, and kududaula with 38 recordings (see Table 28). This pattern is a reflection of the importance of species with coppicing and branch pruning potential to meet fuelwood needs. Gliricidia, which is the most common fast growing species available in the area, is the most widely used. While coconut provides dead branches and other parts as well as husks and shells, all products of other species are available at pruning or coppicing times. In fact, when excess is obtained these species supply some stocks for the market.


TABLE 28: SPECIES WIDELY USED IN STUDY VILLAGES AND THE SPATIAL VARIATION

The ownership of supply sources has no impact on the use patterns. With regard to all three types of household land: homegardens, fences and hedges, and other farm lands, women own comparatively fewer units (see Table 29). Women have access and rights to gather fuelwood from all these units, irrespective of men's legal ownership rights. The men's greater ownership rights means power in making decisions regarding the marketable wood, and trade. The interviews conducted at 15 households revealed a quite striking segregation in the selling of fuelwood. In all cases the primary responsibility of procuring fuelwood for cooking is borne by women. Yet, when fuelwood is harvested or larger stocks are derived at tree felling, better round wood segments are separated from twigs. The twigs are retained as fuelwood for women for domestic cooking, while the better segments crosscut by men go for sale, as a source of cash income. This is a clear gender specific segregation in the woodfuel business in the rural areas.

TABLE 29: SOURCE OWNERSHIP BY GENDER

Study area/ village

# producing for market

Homegardens

Fences & hedges

Other family land

Pitawala

2

15

10

1



Women

Men

Women

Men

Women

Men



6

9

5

5

1

0

Udagama

2

15

14

4



6

9

6

8

2

2

Rajawella

1

15

13




7

8

5

8

0

0

Gomagoda

4

15

15

6



3

12

3

12


6

Narampanawa

2

15

14

3



3

12

3

11


3

Panwila

2

15

8


3



11

4

4

4

2

1

Gunnepana

2

15

15

2



5

10

6

9

2

0

4.10 Discussion

The commercial users in the rural areas pay a significantly low price per unit, except for specific types of woodfuel like coconut wood. However, for the local producers the commercial users are the best buyers of excess local products. Due to the small scale and occasional supply and also the availability in various locations, the large scale traders and transporters are not heavily involved in the process. Nearly 80% of the excess producers interviewed sell the better segments of wood harvested from homegardens and fences/hedges. These are un-split round wood, so the procedure is that better marketable parts are cut and stacked for sale.

For the commercial sector in general two factors are important. The first is the fuelwood price, the other is the preferred woodfuel type to make quality products. In the rural areas the flow patterns are determined by the specific qualities of woodfuel requirements. The lime industry is a good example. In other cases, the ability to use the cheapest or any available type without harmful effects on the quality of products is a non-price factor influencing the situation. Industrialists tend to limit the use of cheaper substitutes only when such types affect the quality. Rather than losing the sales they prefer to pay for the wood and then add cheaper substitutes as appropriate.

The activities pertaining to the woodfuel flow in general reflect some important aspects of the gender division of labour:

i. When supply is small scale and takes place from household sources women dominate the process, from harvesting and stacking for sale, whereas when the supply is from saw mills, where the activities are related to trade and transport it is dominated by men;

ii. The selling/buying, transporting, is exclusively male dominated, so cash made out of local resources is directly handled by men;

iii. The market potential enables small-scale producers to make cash out of woodfuel sales.

Due to the informal trading systems, the need for transportation and the lack of a consistent price there is a greater tendency for the intermediaries to benefit more than the producers. As a result what happens is that the producers tend to sell the woodfuel in stacks to the intermediaries, the hand carters, end users, and traders rather than wait to fetch a better price. The important socio-economic dimension here is that for the producers woodfuel is an occasional means of cash to meet contingency needs, while for the hand carters, who transport 60-70 percent, it is the sole means of employment and income. The price is often decided by the intermediaries rather than by the producers, because producers depend on carters, traders and other transporters.

The commercial woodfuel flow in rural areas is extremely complex due to the multiple sources used, the involvement of different intermediaries, the performance of activities related to the flow at different locations and their irregularity. Who does what of course is more determined by gender, and conventional gender ideology often limits women's engagement in the process between harvesting to selling, whereas trade is the privilege of men.

An important point in the rural sphere is that when the process is operating locally the role of outside intermediaries is low. The local mechanism keeps the system under the control of local actors, and women's labour is used more as a free family labour while men's free labour is often marked with cash from sales.


Fuelwood is split before being delivered to a depot (T.N.B.)


Fuelwood packed for transportation to a retail shop (T.N.B.)