Working on fuel briquettes via Swayam Krishi Sangam India

Photograph courtesy SKS

Great Energy Challenge Innovator: Swayam Krishi Sangam

Project: Biodiversity-Led Livelihoods Through Fuel Briquettes

Location: Orissa State, India

Summary: Swayam Krishi Sangam (SKS) works with tribal women from ultra poor families in Koraput district, Orissa State, India to make fuel briquettes for cooking purposes as well as incense sticks used in Indian temples, churches and mosques after dipping them in fragrant scents. Tribal families are chronically hungry but remain economically active. Their highly forested habitat provides substantial biomass perennially, which is prime, raw material for making fuel briquettes.

Tribal women are trained to make fuel briquettes via briquette machines, as well as market the sale of briquettes. SKS makes good use of abundant, local raw materials and instructs in financial planning help ensure a financially solvent project. Tribal women earn a living by selling the briquettes and incense rolls to markets in nearby towns.

The Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, Pune, India standardized the concept and developed the technology to make fuel briquettes. Fuel briquettes release 90% less carbon than firewood. Further, the state government encourages this project since non-conventional and clean energy sources are a stated priority.

Project funds cover 100 hand-operated briquetting machines for training. The project motto, "discere faciendo" or "learning by doing" capitalizes on large quantities of available biomass, which would otherwise become extremely dry during hot summer and susceptible to destructive forest fires over thousands of hectares.

Goal: Provide a clean and affordable energy source year-round, while protecting the environment and creating employment for women among ultra poor

Project participants: Swayam Krishi Sangam (Divakar Ratnagiri, vice president, programs, Hyderabad; Dharma Rao, field operations manager, Koraput, Orissa)

The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors, awards roughly a half-dozen grants per year. The goal of the grant program is to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.

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