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How cassava can fight climate change

04 December 2015

How cassava can fight climate change

Like many in farming communities in western Uganda, 64-year-old Benedict Rwakabale is worried about the effects of climate change. So Benedict is making his own contribution towards saving trees by creating environmentally friendly fuel from his cassava plants.

Benedict has already noticed the effects of climate change on his crop production, and believes that cutting back on the use of charcoal and firewood is essential. “We are now facing El Niño rains for example, and the waters are destroying a lot of crops out here,” he says. “By polluting our environment, future generations are likely to face harsh consequences.”

On his farm near Fort Portal Town, Benedict grows three acres of cassava, a staple food for his family, as well as bananas and local vegetables. Through training from Farm Africa and PRICON, a company helping farmers access better markets, Benedict has been improving the quality of his cassava and drying it to sell to millers. PRICON-led training sessions also helped him to develop his new, innovative source of fuel.

Benedict uses his dried cassava peelings to create fuel briquettes which he and his family use to cook. Drying out the cassava isn’t easy, but Benedict wants to go the extra mile to protect the environment and keep his family healthy. The briquettes don’t emit smoke, burn for much longer than charcoal and are cheaper to make. And as households can easily switch from wood to cassava briquettes, local uptake has been good - Benedict has now invested in a kiln in order to produce briquettes at home in bulk so that he can sell the surplus. Selling briquettes to locals means extra income for Benedict and his family, and cuts everyone’s energy costs.

Together, Benedict’s community are doing their bit to save the environment. “We are fighting climate change one briquette at a time,” says the local farmer.