Nkhotakota — Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) has handed over ethanol stoves to 36 households in Nkhotakota to mark the beginning of an assessment where ethanol is tested at household level as a domestic fuel.
Speaking during the handover, Dr. Davies Mweta Executive Dean of Malawi Institute of Technology under MUST said they would like to be extracting raw ethanol from cassava peels to be used for cooking and for blending with petrol to run motor vehicles.
He said the handover of the ethanol stoves is a component of their pilot project titled 'techno-economic feasibility of decentralized production of bio-ethanol using wastes from cassava processing in Nkhotakota'.
"Decomposition of cassava peels results in production of methane gas which contributes to global warming and eventually leading to climate change. Through this project, we would like to use the cassava peels for production of ethanol.
"The project will assist farmers because they will be using clean energy rather than using firewood and charcoal. The farmers will also benefit economically by selling the peels to Nkhotakota Cassava Processors Association for production of ethanol which will be sold to Ethco," Mweta said.
Nkhotakota District Council Director of Planning and Development Griffin Mhango said the project will assist Nkhotakota because it is a major cassava growing district.
"This means that we have a lot of cassava peels which were contributing to global warming but now the peels will be used for the benefit of women who face a huge burden of looking for firewood.
"I would therefore like to call upon the Nkhotakota Cassava Processors Association and the farmers to unite with MUST so that the study should go smoothly to have a wonderful project," Mhango said.
Nkhotakota Cassava Processors Association Chairperson Geoffrey Chikaonda said the association is glad to partner with MUST in the study for environmental and economic benefit of the community.
"We have ethanol processing plants which we will be using to produce ethanol from the peels and eventually selling the ethanol to Ethco.
"The current market price of raw cassava is K30 per kg and we have decided to be buying the peels at K20 per kg to attract many farmers to be selling the peels to us. We are aware that farmers produce huge peels of cassava in the production of kondole," Chikaonda said.
Ethco Operations Manager Dereck Zamaere said Ethco supports any intervention to do with clean energy.
"Use of ethanol for cooking will save our forests considering that 96 per cent of the population use firewood and charcoal for cooking.
"We also see this project as an avenue for reducing the gap in demand for ethanol because our current production does not meet the demand," he said.
MUST is implementing the project with financial support from Capacity Building for Managing Climate Change (CABMACC) in Malawi.
CABMACC is a government programme bankrolled by Malawi Government and Royal Norwegian Government coordinated through Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.