Sale of rice husk stoves on the rise

07 May 2010

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Rice husk stoves have been gaining popularity in the Terai region. Metal Nepal, a Bhairahawa based enterprise with its 60 employers produces 300 stoves in one day under the enterprising leadership of Shekhar Rayamajhi. One rice husk stove is being sold for Rs. 625 thanks to mass scale production. Earlier it used to be sold for Rs. 900. Rayamajhi has sold more than100,000 rice husk stoves in the Terai region in the past one year.

The UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF), Small Grants Programme initially piloted this enterprise in Bara district in 2007 through the Nature and Human Development Centre (NHDC), an NGO. An associate of this NGO, Rayamajhi established a rice husk stove manufacturing unit in Bhairahawa. He also franchised the rice husk stove production to a Lucknow (neighbouring state in India) based entrepreneur who is also producing 200 stoves every day.

"The rice husk stove is popular because it is cheap, readily available and simple to use," says Rayamajhi.

After spending more than a decade in Australia, Rayamajhi finds it very satisfying to be a successful entrepreneur in his own country. He further adds, "one kg of rice husk costs only 40 paisa (100paisa=Rs.1). Even a poor household can cook one meal with 1 kg of rice husk. A household that uses rice husk stove saves Rs. 8,000 per annum as the rice husk replaces firewood. Besides the economic benefits, it saves environment as it saves forest, reduces indoor kitchen pollution and saves women many hours of collecting firewood."

Rayamajhi's associates also run depots in the villages for steady supply of rice husk and help in demonstrating its use to the first time users.