On the 14th of May, GreenTech Company Ltd, in cooperation with the School Agriculture Unit under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), was holding a validation workshop on the groundnutshell briquette demonstration and testing series undertaken
The workshop took place in the Hall of Abuko Junior School. Representatives of the 20 involved schools and their food management committees were invited, as well as representatives from related governmental departments and NGOS.
Mr. Gibril Barry, Principle Education Officer of the School Agriculture Unit opened the workshop and explained the background of the collaboration between the MoU partners, GreenTech and MOBSE. Lamin Sanyang of the Department of Forestry complimented GreenTech for its efforts in mitigating environmental challenges and stated that the management team was known for its engagement in forest protection even before they started the company.
The team of GreenTech then explained the procedures of the testing and presented the results. The testing revealed that the briquettes are a true alternative cooking fuel also for the schools, as the same findings applied for most institutional stoves as for households: Compared to the commonly used firewood, briquettes in well ventilated and insulated institutional stoves are more cost and time effective, save natural resources and produce less smoke. Due to their compact and clean nature, they are also easier to store and handle.
During the demonstrations and testings in the WFP approved school kitchens, GreenTech observed that there are different types of stoves and presented recommendations accordingly.
All school stoves needed a simple metal plate (made by local welders) to be inserted as ash tray to improve the ventilation. This feature could even be found in diverse stoves, but in inefficient dimensions. For 12 schools it was recommended to improve the ventilation through additional air holes for best performance of briquette in the school stove. Only four stoves were identified as not compatible for the briquettes, whereby it was also observed that firewood did not perform well in those kitchen. Due to the extreme smoke caused by the firewood in those four kitchens, two of the stove sets were even abandoned and cooking would take place on a 3corner stone system next to the stove or outside the kitchen. Those four incompatible stove were obviously previously designed for charcoal use in households and do not function well for firewood in an institutional dimension. In another four school kitchens, the briquettes could be used by only inserting the metal plate without further amendments.
Following aspects were identified as key factors for efficient and convenient use of school stoves:
– Compatibility: Combination of stove, fuel and pots
– Dimensions of the school (number of students
– Design/Style of kitchen and stove
– Positioning of stove to windows and doors
– Positioning and direction of chimney
– Comfort of handling pots and stoves
– Maintenance of stoves and kitchens
– Cleanliness of stoves and tidiness of kitchens
– Skills and Awareness of management and kitchen staff
– Willingness of stakeholders involved
As every school was facing an individual situation, regarding the factors above, GreenTech urged the participants to contact the company for free consultation, when renovation or establishing school kitchens to provide best recommendations on the option for briquette use. Also where schools want to start using briquettes from now on, GreenTech offered free consultation on the slight amendments necessary to improve ventilation and insulation, respectively to provide user training for the kitchen staff.
In the discussion forum, stakeholders were especially interested in the aspect of accessibility of briquettes. GreenTech stated, that it is currently establishing sales points in communities of the Greater Banjul Area and is building up a delivery system to decentralise sales and improve the service. Individuals or institutions interested in establishing salespoints are invited to contact GreenTech. GreenTech is especially encouraging women groups from the respective communities to engage in the sales and distribution of briquettes, as the company is a pro-poor venture, aiming for women empowerment.
The workshop was rounded up through performances of students from Wellingara, New Jeshwang and Sinchu Balia to give students a voice on the need of climate change mitigation.
As lemon grass tea is usually cooked by GreenTech’s demonstration team, when presenting the use of briquettes in the fuel efficient stoves and participants were keen to receive the plants for their homes, at the end of this workshop, each participant was given a lemon grass seedling to take it along and plant it as a useful natural remedy and carbon sink.
GreenTech cordially thanks all participants for their valuable contributions and the team is looking forward to cooperate more with the schools and the related institutions in future.