As part of its efforts at curbing deforestation in the country, GreenTech Company Limited, an environmentally-oriented company, has introduced alternative fuels and improved cooking stoves as a means to reduce people's pressure on the forest for fuel wood and charcoal.
Whilst designing and promoting energy efficient stoves, the company produces affordable high quality solid biomass fuel for cooking and heating for a high diversity of industries and households.
Their activities support international and national strategies and targets for sustainable environmental and social development.
In a bid to raise public awareness, GreenTech Company Limited is embarking on demonstrations of groundnut shell briquettes usage campaign in twenty schools within the greater Banjul Area as part of a cooperation project with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) through the school Agriculture and Food Management Unit.
Recently the company held a demonstration exercise at St. John School for the Deaf witnessed by a good number of school children and teachers in an open venue where every one had the opportunity to observe and ask questions.
Speaking during the exercise, Lenja Guenther, project coordinator at the company, stated that GreenTech is a private business response to the actual poverty situation, the up-winding energy crises and the environmental challenges in The Gambia.
She explained briefly on how the briquettes are produced through a heavy duty machine that requires groundnut shells, which are usually collected from the dumpsite of the Gambia Groundnut Cooperation at Denton Bridge in Banjul.
When the groundnut shells are put into the machine, it will heat and compress it inside to convert the loose shells into briquettes.
According to her, this sensitization is part of a series of sensitization to raise public awareness on the issue, financed through the UNDP/UNEP/IUCN SEED Award Support and implemented in cooperation with their MoU partner MoBSE, among others.
The fuel efficient stoves are locally made and currently GTTI (another MoU partner) has already started to train their welding students on the production of such stoves.
She further revealed that the stoves and briquettes are very cost-effective and accessible.
"GreenTech Company Ltd focuses on pro-poor and environmentally-friendly products, production and marketing strategies with high potential of extension and diversification," she said.
She added that the company is dedicated to providing sustainable environmental solutions to households, industries and institutions.
For his part, Alhagie Suso, an independent retailer from Manjai and sensitisation support, said the stoves and briquettes are affordable, cost-effective, healthy and environmentally friendly.
With 2.5kg of briquettes (D5/kg) the innovative combination could cook a meal for an extended family within short period of time.
According to him, research has been conducted to see conditionality of the briquettes and stoves before it was introduced to the public.
The combination of briquettes in fuel-efficient stoves clearly showed less visible smoke than the traditional cooking with firewood and could save the user half of the cost for fuel compared to the common charcoal setting
"This is a good initiative, and I encourage every Gambian to start using the method to save the forest," he added.