In an effort to justify the 2017 International Women’s Day theme:”Be Bold For Change”, WOFAN has trained and graduated 80 women groups (comprising 30 members each- 2400 rural women farmers) , on a simple technology of converting rice husks produced as waste from their milled rice
which has for a long time constituted a menance and littered around as waste into rice briquettes and charcoal for cooking and generating income. The 2400 Women from Dawakin Kudu, Bunkure and Garko converged at the WOFAN Yadakwari in Women centre in Garun Malam Local Government Area of Kano State to launch Rice husk briquetting as cooking fuel.
For these rural women, young and old, it was another bold choice for change as they converted waste from rice processing to a potential source of wealth.
Earlier, over 6,000 women had received training on better parboiling techniques to improve the quality of their rice for better competition in the Nigerian market. The training was conducted by WOFAN as part of the Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI) project.
With improved parboiled rice, the women groups had doubled their income. However, less than 1% of the rice husk produced through the parboiling process was put to use as cooking fuel, meaning a large chunk of the by-product went to waste. This changed at the beginning of the year when WOFAN introduced rice husk briquette production to add value to the by-product of the parboiling process and turn the waste into wealth for the women.
Women who had learnt this skill used the occasion of the 2017 IWD to showcase their new skills and share views and experiences on the use of rice husk briquetting.
According to Hajia Hindatu Muhammad, the briquettes made from rice husk have already saved her over N5000 (Five Thousand Naira), per week as she no longer has to buy kerosene, firewood or charcoal to cook for her business and domestic booking.
She said, “I parboil rice for sale. But, like other parboilers, I use very little of the husk for fuel because husk dust is difficult to manage until WOFAN came to train us on how to use the husk to produce briquettes for cooking and I immediately became interested. It is so easy to produce, very cheap, readily available, burns well and has made us less dependent on fuel wood and kerosene, thereby conserving the environment.
Kerosene, firewood and charcoal have become so expensive and untouchable that poor people like me cannot afford to use it any more.
But alas!, these briquettes have saved me from all these expenses and it means we can reduce the act of cutting down trees and save the environment in the face of climate change affecting our region
“For me, this year’s International Women’s Day is special because I think this new skill will eventually save me from poverty”, say Hajia Gambo the women secretary in Garun Mallam.
Also speaking during the celebration, Hajia Sa’ a explained that rice husk briquetting has not only given women a very cheap source of cooking fuel, it has also reduced the environmental hazards they suffer from using charcoal or firewood.
“I cannot express my happiness enough today. This new source of cooking fuel means we no longer suffer from smoke inhalation and health hazards posed by charcoal and firewood. Now, in our parboiling business, there is no more waste, instead, it’s more money and less poverty”, she enthused.
The CARI Project which seeks to enhance Rice production and processing in Africa, is being facilitated in Kano State by WOFAN and CARI with funding support from the Walmart Foundation and GIZ. The project targets over 7,000 Rice farmers and processors in four local government areas of Garko, Dawakin Kudu, Garun Mallam and Bunkure of Kano State.
WOMEN FARMERS ADVANCEMENT NETWORK.