Briquette industry making village women self-reliant

The Himalayan Times on November 12, 2012 writes on the case of the ANSAB supported briquette industries in Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha districts, in making the village women self-reliant. The news reads as follows:


KATHMANDU: People willing to learn lessons on entrepreneurship can learn a lot from women based in seven villages of Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha.

Using what many of us would call ‘useless’ shrubs found in jungles in their localities, they make bio-briquettes, which have replaced electric heaters and fossil fuels in urban areas where they are used in houses and restaurants for heating rooms and baking.

Rural women have benefited from the industry, a venture of 30 women. Speaking at a programme yesterday, Nanda Kumari Shrestha of Chiple village in Sindhupalchowk said she now earns Rs 5,500 monthly, a big leap from daily income of Rs 100 that she used to earn as a laborer before becoming a part of this industry. A proud Shrestha said the industry has given women like her freedom as they do not have to look up to their husbands for money.

Working for 10 months in the industry, these women collect shrubs from the forests and char them in a pit to release moisture.

A day later, they bring the dust and grind unburned parts using a machine. Then they mix the dust with clay and water solution, put it in a mold and dry it for four-five days to produce fine pieces of briquettes. Each briquette cost Rs 25 in cities.

Dev Bahadur Shrestha of Dolakha-based Sikre Briquette Industry complained that district forest offices and security personnel seek bribe during transport of briquettes.

Himalayan Naturals packages and delivers briquettes to cities at nominal costs and also does marketing.

According to the company, briquette industries in the seven villages employ 200 people. Last fiscal, their trade volume was worth Rs 8.1 million.