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- It’s a method that some are hoping will take off across Africa, to help protect forests and improve the lives of women
- The stoves use heat-holding volcanic rocks broken down to the size of charcoal
- The Kampala city authority has installed 230 of the stoves at Wandegeya Market where Bamugamire and her colleagues rent the premises from the government
Kampala, June 29, 2017: Cooks at a community kitchen in Kampala’s Nakasero Hill business district are preparing a traditional breakfast of green bananas in offal sauce using a very untraditional means of cooking – volcanic rocks.
It’s a method that some are hoping will take off across Africa, to help protect forests and improve the lives of women.
“Rocks for fuel is a reprieve to all women in Africa,” said Susan Bamugamire, one of the 55 cooks in the community kitchen set up by city authorities in the Wandegeya Market shopping mall to help feed local workers.
“Save for the high cost of purchasing and installing it, the special cookstove is something every woman will crave to have in her kitchen,” she said, saying it would largely free women from having to seek out firewood, charcoal or kerosene.
But cost is an issue in a country where a third of the population live on $1.90 or less a day and even small domestic stoves are priced at $100.
The stoves use heat-holding volcanic rocks broken down to the size of charcoal. The rocks are heated using starter briquettes and then remain hot for hours with the help a fan blowing a continuous flow of air over them.
According to Rose Twine, the director of Eco Group Limited – the Kampala-based company that produces the stoves – the main aim is to provide an efficient form of cooking energy that is user friendly and good for the environment.
“It pains me when I see people cut down trees, some of them indigenous and decades old, just for the sake of making charcoal or firewood,” said Twine.
“It is now good that we can talk of an alternative,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The volcanic rocks can be repeatedly heated for up to two years with the aid of the fan, which is solar-powered and needs very little energy. Any surplus solar power produced can be used to light the house, run a radio and charge mobile phones, Twine said.
Alternatively, the fan can be run off mains electricity if the owner’s home or business is connected to the power grid, she said.
It is the cost of the fan, battery and solar panel that push up the stove’s production cost, pushing it out of reach of most people in Uganda.
“We can only achieve the environmental benefits of these stoves if they are made affordable for poor Ugandans who desperately need them,” said David Illukol, a senior mechanical research engineer at the government-run Uganda Industrial Research Institute.
“All we need is further research on how to reduce the costs of production, and perhaps [on] maintaining them,” the engineer said in an interview.
Despite the cost, more than 4,500 individuals and institutions in Uganda – including schools – are now using the stoves, according to Eco Group Limited.
The Kampala city authority has installed 230 of the stoves at Wandegeya Market where Bamugamire and her colleagues rent the premises from the government.
There are plans for the stoves to be used in other parts of the continent too.
Twine’s company began exporting them to Rwanda this year, and plans to take them to Kenya and Somalia as well.
An umbrella group of more than 1,000 climate organizations and networks – the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance – wants to spread the cooking method across Africa, according to its secretary general Mithika Mwenda.
Volcanic rocks have the potential to become a key cooking method for East Africa and perhaps the entire continent, engineer Illukol said.
They are a largely environmentally friendly form of cooking because – unlike charcoal, kerosene, gas and firewood – they do not emit climate-changing gases and produce no smoke at all, he said.
About 94 percent of Ugandan households use firewood or charcoal for cooking, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
Only 20 percent of households had access to electricity in 2014, and most of those connected to the grid rarely use electricity for cooking because of the high costs involved, the statics bureau said.
Demand for wood for fuel has put pressure on Uganda’s shrinking forests.
The country had some 3 million hectares of tropical forests under government control at the beginning of the 20th century.
But by 1999, tropical forest cover had fallen to about 730,000 hectares or 3.6 percent of Uganda’s land area, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
“If we can stop using firewood and charcoal completely, then we will have saved a huge volume of wood that is used for fuel every year, and that is good for our environment,” said Illukol. (VOA)
The Centre will launch a pilot project on the use of indigenously manufactured drones for delivering medicines in the undulating landscape of Jammu and surrounding areas from Saturday with a focus on vaccines delivery initially. "This is going to be a pilot project for the area. The drone is developed and manufactured entirely by our scientists," Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh told mediapersons. Singh said he himself will be launching the project at Jammu.
The drone is developed by the scientists at Bengaluru's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an autonomous Society that is headed by the Prime Minister. For now, the delivery would be limited to Covid vaccines and once successful, it would be expanded to be used for regular delivery of medicines in the remote, hilly areas.
The drone is developed by the scientists at Bengaluru's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). | Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash
Jammu and surrounding areas are sensitive in terms of the strategic importance. Some months ago, there was an attack on an Army installation using drones. Will the 'drones for vaccines' be permitted in such a case? Allaying fears, a top official from the Ministry of S&T said, "The drones would be deployed by authorised agencies such as hospitals, not anybody can use it, nor would any random person be permitted to use it."
NAL has called the drone as 'Octacopter' and it can fly at an operational altitude of 500 m AGL and at maximum flying speed of 36 kmph. It can be used for a variety of BVLOS applications for last mile delivery like medicines, vaccines, food, postal packets, Human organs (such as heart for heart transplantation) etc. NAL Octacopter is integrated with a powerful on-board embedded computer and latest generation sensors for versatile applications like agricultural pesticide spraying, crop monitoring, mining survey, magnetic geo survey mapping etc., S&T officials had said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Jammu, Vaccines, Medicines, Deliver, Drones, Centre
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods