Paul Mallimbo, Rudmec, Kampala
CHARCOAL is becoming more and more a scarce product in East Africa and is not only contributing to severe environmental problem like deforestation and soil erosion, but also pauses serious health hazards like diseases linked with respiratory systems.
The use of trees on making charcoals has been a major factor that contributes to the climate change in developing countries especially East Africa. Thousands of tones of trees have been cut and the trend is still going on, despite the efforts made by different governments in the region to stop people from this long rooted behavior of cutting trees for charcoal making.
Banana is a plant that can save the region from becoming dry if people will be taught other benefits of banana apart from the one they know, which is food. If the government leaders, especially politicians will advocate for the banana plantation, trees will be saved from being the only source of charcoal.
Banana peels can be used as another source of making charcoal without causing hazards in the environment.
Hajji Mohammed Kawere is a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UGASTOVE Uganda Ltd, a company that deals in the production and giving out of various kinds of biomass technologies which include energy saving stoves for households, institutional saving stoves, baking ovens, incinerators, fire-less box cookers and charcoal briquettes.
Kawere revealed that it takes lots of trees to come up with 10kg of charcoal compared to banana peels which do not cost anything when used to make charcoal.
Sekajugo John, an expert on briquettes making mentioned most of the three required resources that can help in coming up with dry and ready charcoal for cooking from banana peels.
He said you need to have dried banana peels, a mixer or starch that can be acquired from cassava flour which acts as a binder and finally you need to have filler/molds where can be used to make shapes of briquettes.
The banana peels are collected and then sun dried and half burned you don’t allow them to burn complete and then you pour water in semi burned banana peels to get carbonate which are sheaved then those black powdered material that will come out during sheaved process, are mixed with clay soil or mica soils and finally mixed with cassava flour.
Sekajugo said at this stage the briquettes is almost ready only awaiting molds to get proper shapes.
He said other people are using their hands to mold the briquettes and have round shape.
According to one of the community members of Nabisalu zone, Fausta Namubiru, since the introduction of this technology in her family, she has been saving 700 Ugandan shillings everyday because the briquettes they use, spend two to three days so they don’t need to buy charcoal.
“My husband always give me 1000 for my daily domestic use, but now a days when he gives me such money I use 300 and keep the rest for my private needs, I have stopped asking my husband for money to buy small items, adding this is because she sales three briquettes at 1000 shillings, she said.
Speaking with this reporter an Briquettes Making Project Manager Twasee Ismail, said, apart from banana peels being used to make briquettes, sugar can tops, molasses, potatoes peels, charcoal aggregates can also be used to make briquettes.
He added that, these briquettes are also being used by poultry farmers as warmers in their poultry farms, they no longer need electricity because seven briquettes take two to three days warming up the place.
Twasee said, briquettes can also be source of income, because you can sale those briquettes and get money. Adding that some of community members who have seriously engaged themselves in making the charcoal, are facing challenges of market because the technology is still new, but when the technology is spread, and people get to know the benefits of briquettes, the market will be there.