The briquette stove and its challenges in Mulanje

Arnold Kadziponye (MUREA) and Ntchindi Msuku (MBAULA) inspecting Lucy Nachakale’s kiln

Lucy Nachakale who belongs to the Chigwirizano Production Group has been making briquette stoves for nearly 3 years. The Chigwirizano Group in Mulanje has been making the Chitetezo Mbaula but Churches in Action in Relief and Development (CARD) who engaged Nachakale, came up with a stove which uses briquettes rather than firewood.

The briquette stove

Nachakale started making the stoves in 2014 but has been unable to tap into the stove market with her briquette stoves. She says that not a lot of people are willing to buy her briquette stoves and she claims that she has only sold 11 stoves since 2014. Due to the lack of market growth for her briquette stoves, she has only managed to make 22 stoves since 2014.

Left: Dominic Makondetsa

Nachakale seems to think part of the problem why people are not buying the briquette stoves is because of the unavailability of briquettes in her area. “How can people buy the stoves when we don’t even have briquettes?” She asks.

This is why she has sought collaborate with Dominic Makondetsa of Chimwala Production group of Nkupala Village in Mulanje. The Chimwala production group comprises of 6 men and 6 women. The Chimwala Group has also been making briquettes since 2014 but also have failed to market their product even after staged awareness campaigns in their communities.

So far they estimate that they have only sold 1500 briquettes since 2014. Makondetsa says that most people buy briquettes in the rainy season just because most of their firewood is wet due to rainfall. Otherwise not a lot of people in their village buy briquettes and he estimates that only about 5 people buy briquettes randomly every month. However, Makondetsa thinks that the reason why people do not buy the briquettes is because they do not have a briquette stove.

Paper and maize husk briquettes made by the Chimwala group

Furthermore, he also seems to think that it is a difficult thing to change ingrained behaviours of using the three-stone fire within communities who would rather fetch firewood than pay for briquettes.

Another obsevravition of Makondetsa is that people think that the briquettes burn too quickly than firewood. It is thus a challenge to convince the inhabitants of his village to pay money for briquettes which burn quickly when they can just fetch firewood for free.

Due to the marketing challenges of the briquette stoves and briquettes in Mulanje, Lucy Nachikale and Dominic Makondetsa have thus been in talks to collaborate to sell briquette stoves together with briquettes as a package. If their communities can be provided with this package, both Nachikale and Makondetsa believe that the communities of their various areas will be much more receptive to the briquette stoves.