Charcoal is the primary cooking fuel for over 85% of the urban population in Madagascar, and is consumed at an ever-growing rate. The town of Fort Dauphin for instance, where our first operations are under way, consumes ~10,500 tons of charcoal annually, requiring ~80 to 100 thousand tons of wood that largely originate from unsustainably harvested natural forests. This is the equivalent of over 1,300 hectares of forest annually (much of it in protected areas). This devastates Madagascar’s unique biodiversity, and contributes to climate change through the forest’s reduced capacity for absorbing CO2 emissions. Dwindling wood supplies and a growing population result in accelerating deforestation and increasing charcoal prices. This intensifies poverty and reduces resilience to climate change.
The Cooking Fuel Company (CFC) aims to render key towns in Madagascar self-sufficient in their biomass cooking fuel energy demands through the production of bamboo chips and/or biomass pellets as a sustainable cooking fuel. The fuel is burned in modern and clean-burning gasifying stoves. Normally too expensive for the target beneficiaries, these stoves are provided for free to member-families (against a small refundable deposit) and remain the property of the company. Each member-family commits to a minimum purchase of fuels each month, at an affordable price that covers the cost of fuel and – over time – the stove itself.
The business reduces poverty, prevents deforestation, protects biodiversity, creates employment and establishes a proof-of-concept enterprise that can attract impact-investors to scale up and continue to operate in a financially-sustainable manner.
Our first town of operations is Fort Dauphin on the south-east coast ,where CFC has established a 20-hectare large bamboo plantation – providing a sustainable source of fuel for hundreds of households as we continue to expand.
The company originally intended to produce sustainable charcoal, as shown in the video. However, recent technology advances in cookstoves make it possible to run them on chips or pellets – thereby avoiding the huge waste of energy that occurs during charcoal production.
MCC business summary: