Prakti’s Sooday Jhaveri Tells Us How They Smoke Away The Rural Kitchen Pollution With Their Stoves
- IWB Post
- April 19, 2017
According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project at the University of Washington, mortality figures for outdoor air pollution in India have been shown to exceed those in China. Half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, mentioned a recent World Health Organization report.
Despite knowing the hazardous impacts of air pollution that results in cardiovascular diseases including stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancers we fail to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter.
But there are some good Samaritans who are working hard each day towards making our planet a better and healthier place to live. One such person is Moroccan entrepreneur and engineer Moushine Serrar who manufactures and distributes energy-efficient, low-cost and low-smoke cook stoves in rural India.
After completing his PhD, Moushine studied wood burning stoves at a research center in the US and worked on different projects in Africa before setting up Prakti in Auroville in Pondicherry, India.
To know more about how the stoves have lit up the lives of rural women and lightened the burden of health hazards, we spoke to the Growth and Strategy manager of Prakti, Sooday Jhaveri.
Having extensively worked in Africa, what differences did you observe while researching about wooden stoves there and applying them here in India?
Our research was based out of Africa but most of its part was executed in India. We saw that in Africa the type of fuel majorly used in cooking is charcoal than wood whereas in India, it is wood.
Both rural and urban people in Africa use wood and charcoal whereas in India, urban use LPG and rural use wood.
Africa is very accessible because the cooking patterns, affordability, purchasing power, behavior, eating preferences are all the more uniform throughout the country.
On the flip side, India is quite diverse. Each state has its own different foods, habits, and cuisine preferences.If people in the North eat chapatti, people towards south prefer rice.
Tell us about the benefits of the Prakti stove?
Since our stove consumes 50% less fuel, it benefits the health of women and children in rural areas. According to a World Bank report, indoor air pollution is the biggest cause of throat and health adversity in rural women and children. Our stove that reduces carbon emission up to 80% as compared to a traditional chulha, provides women with a healthier environment while they cook.
Also, this stove cooks 40% faster and saves time which rural women spend elsewhere. Since they get to cook fast, they get an extra hour at work which makes them earn extra money.
In future, how are you planning to replace wood with other cleaner fuels?
Well, this depends on the availability of other cleaner fuels. Right now the ones readily available are wood and charcoal. These also if efficiently used can help in achieving a healthier environment. We have tried experimenting with other fuels but the distribution channels are very poor. So as of now, we are trying to make the most in the least usage of fuel.
For a better understanding of your product, have you ever cooked on your own stove? And what was the first meal you cooked?
Oh yes, of course! At the office, the entire Prakti team eats food cooked on Prakti stoves. We have different prototypes, we try and test different meals so that we know what we are selling. If a prototype doesn’t work, our cook scolds us.
Also, there are times when we light the stove for days to see how long they last. The first meal that I cooked was lemon rice.
Share with us the feedbacks rural women had given you that made you believe in your product all the more?
With every stove we sell, we try to contact the buyers to hear their feedback. We want to know whether our stoves are helping them, making them happy or not! We have heard women telling us that their food gets cooked faster on our stoves and since ours is an indoor stove, they don’t need to sit out and cook in the heat.
One beautiful feedback was from a mother who gifted our stove to her newly married daughter and told us that it was a fancy gift to give.
Since our stoves are available at affordable EMIs, it gets easy for women to take this monetary decision on their own without the intervention of their husbands.
How do you convince rural people to buy your stove?
The two questions they have in their mind are:
Will the stove work?
How much will they cost?
So to convince them we go around from village to village and conduct demonstrations. We also show them videos of foreigners using our stoves and other rural women too, so that they see how user-friendly and environment-friendly our stoves are.
We also reach out to distribution networks and global networks of healthy fuel cooking stoves. We get in touch with Gram Panchayats and block development officers to spread the word among the the rural segment.
Which countries are you planning to expand to in the coming future?
So far we are operating in India, Nepal, Kenya, Congo, and Tanzania. Right now our focus is only India. We have reached almost 12-15 states and soon will cover more.
We see that urban people consume resources to such extents that this creates the imbalance in rural areas.
Urban people need to reduce cutting trees and reduce overall wastage. A lot of rural people face issues of drought due to water scarcity and tremendously increasing heat. This affects their lives, working capacity and ultimately their productivity. This results in the lack of employment and their purchasing power.
So it is high time urban people start caring about the Rural India.
To know more about Prakti stoves, click here.