Project Lead(s): Henry David (Hank) Venema
Climate change is creating many challenges for developing countries.
Global disease burden is increasing as a result of interconnected factors, such malnutrition, access to safe drinking water and indoor air pollution.
Approaches that use simple technologies to improve the food-fuel-income security axis could help address these challenges, by creating resilient livelihoods and healthy communities.
Village-level biotechnologies (VLB) using local resources are innovations to address basic public health needs that have the capacity to build resilience in communities challenged by the impact of climate change.
The VLB model differs from conventional silo approaches to reducing risk of diseases by focusing on simple technologies that integrate food, fuel and income security, and address immediate and underlying causes of maternal and child health.
In this project in India, the intent is to convert waste cashew fruit into bioethanol fuel for clean cooking stoves, with the spent pulp composted for use in kitchen gardens to improve nutritional security.
Bioethanol-fueled cooking stoves reduce smoke exposure for women and children, as well as the time spent collecting fuel wood and cooking with conventional wood cooking stoves. The alternative fuel is used during monsoons when wood is wet and cooking is mostly done indoors, increasing indoor air pollution.
The project has proven feasible at the pilot plant. However, village-scale implementation has been delayed due to the devastating after-effects of a super cyclone that affected cashew fruit yields by destroying all orchards around the pilot plant.
To date, four cashew farmers have been mobilized in Ganjam and over 30 in Gajapati. Five sets of relay crop combinations have been introduced: red gram-niger; amarnath-soya; castor-sunflower; paddy-flax; castor-soya; red gram-cotton. Six women technicians have been trained in the use of cashew-pressing machines, in addition to equipment such as tillers, pedal threshers and weeders.
Through Project Gaia, funds have been crowd-sourced for 15 double-burner clean-cooking stoves, which have been demonstrated to community members in three villages. Alternative feedstock for biodiesel has been identified and field-tested to improve resilience. Four new tree-borne oilseeds have also been identified, pressed and converted into fuel.
Health outcomes of the target population will be measured 3–5 years after the implementation of the project.
Details about the project have been disseminated at events.
The project team intends to apply for Transition To Scale (TTS) funding to develop a case for promotion of bioethanol for cooking (as a companion to the government of India’s promotion of liquefied petroleum gas and methanol), along with biodiesel for agro-mechanization to improve food, fuel and income security among forest-dwelling tribal populations.