Bio-briquette value chain: ANSAB’s initiation to develop fair bio-briquette value chain in Nepal

Bio-Briquettes are a promising source of alternative energy with a proven record of their effectiveness to increase earnings for the poor, reduce health risks for women and children, maintain carbon pool in forests, and reduce the propagation of invasive alien species. In Nepal, briquettes are produced at smallholder level and are supported by different government and donor agencies for about a decade. Though there was a latent demand of bio-briquette in urban markets and a huge production potential at rural areas, it couldn’t be a commercial venture due to the lack of reliable value chain. ANSAB, in 2007, designed and piloted a project at entire value chain level with the objective of substantially increase the demand for community-produced bio-briquettes in targeted markets of Kathmandu; enhance the production capacities of rural processing enterprises to meet the new demand and increase their revenues; integrate or create processing enterprises in the rural areas to meet the new demand; conserve more hectares of forests and improve more livelihoods; and develop a marketing platform in Kathmandu for marketing of the briquettes.

As a pilot activity, ANSAB facilitated to establish five community-based briquette-producing enterprises and a marketing company named ‘Himalayan Naturals Pvt. Ltd.’ at national level with share holdings of community enterprises and private investors. ANSAB – partnering with Himalayan Naturals – facilitated for the product research and development; quality testing; required trainings of the value chain actors from production to marketing; recruitment of new retailers; street demonstration booths campaign; media campaign; trade fairs participation; supply chain and storage organization; and strengthening of the community enterprises. Recently, a bio-briquette producers association has also been formed. With this initiative, we estimate that about 10-20% population of Kathmandu became aware about the bio-briquette use, and the community enterprises were able to produce and sell over 250,000 pieces of briquettes in 2011.