Beaming with pride as she stirs a steaming pot of spinach and nuts, Maria Douca is one of the first in Mozambique’s capital to own an ethanol-fired stove, burning fuel made from locally grown cassava.
Betting that thousands of other city-dwellers will also switch from their charcoal stoves, a multi-national consortium plans to generate carbon credits to sell to greenhouse gas emitters on the other side of the planet.
Under the Cleanstar scheme led by Danish biotech giant Novozymes, Mozambican farmers sell surplus cassava that is converted to ethanol at a new facility near the central port city of Beira.
The fuel is then shipped to Maputo, where Cleanstar sells the stoves. They say they cannot keep up with demand. Some 200 stoves were sold in the first month and another 3,000 are on order.
Douca has already bought two stoves despite the $25 (20-euro) price tag — easily a week’s income for her family of eight.
Simple, clean and compact, the appliance designed by Swedish company Dometic looks rather like a camping stove but does not produce smoke. For the first time in her life she can cook inside.
“I had problems with my eyes when I was cooking on the ground. My eyes ran, I had asthma problems,” she told AFP.
About 85 percent of Mozambique’s energy comes from wood and charcoal. It is a leading cause of respiratory illness, and studies have shown that primitive cooking stoves kill more people per year — about two million — than malaria.
Cleanstar hopes to capture a sizeable chunk of Maputo’s $153 million a year charcoal business. Ethanol sells at roughly the same price as charcoal – which has doubled in the past three years.