Rice husk stove: locally affordable technological gift to a village

Rice husk stove: locally affordable technological gift to a village
Rice husk stove: locally affordable technological gift to a village

November 2008; The thumping of hammer can be heard from a distance in the relatively calm Gamariya village of Bara. Local manufacturers are busy producing the rice husk stoves' the latest demand in the village.This has become a very lucrative business for the manufacturers. A person can earn from Rs. 300-500 per stove.

The NGO, Nature and Human Development Centre (NHDC), with financial support (US$ 6,671) from UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme has introduced the rice husk stoves in the Purainiya village where firewood is scarce as there is no forest nearby. 'The village is an ideal site for the stove introduction as there are 4 rice mills, which provide plenty of rice husk as raw material for the stoves', says Mr Raj Kumar Singh.

The introduction of the new technology was not an easy job; the local metal workshop had first to be taught to design the model as it was not their regular job. Finally, Sunder Furniture Industry also had to agree to produce 230 stoves and provide training to potential local manufacturers. People were skeptical as to whether the technology would work or not.

The first batch of 71 stoves was distributed free of cost to Dalit communities of Purainiya village. The response was encouraging because 5 kgs of rice husk lasted for 2-7 days , depending upon the family size.

'Just put rice husk around the outer layer of the stove, light a piece of paper, throw it in the mouth of the stove, and the stove burns efficiently with red and blue flames', said Mrs Panabhatiya Devi Devi. She was also happy that the stove produces very less smoke in the house.

In the second lot, 117 heavier stoves were successfully distributed to the Muslim community in Gamariya. The next challenge was to make the technology affordable to local poor communities. Heavier stoves meant more money. One stove costs from Rs. 1000- Rs. 1500 depending upon the quality iron used.

Shanti Devi, a consumer says., 'The sudden demand of rice husk in the village also increased the price of rice husk. 5 kgs of rice husk, which earlier cost Rs. 2 has gone up to Rs. 20 but this is still cheaper for us , as we had to spend Rs. 150 per week to purchase firewood for cooking'. The good thing is we can also use chopped straws of paddy and wheat as fuel in the rice husk stove.