Energy, Productivity and Gender in Agricultural Processing in West Africa


This project is completed

The EPGAP project is implemented in 4 countries in West Africa, focusing on clean cooking technologies for women's domestic and commercial needs.

The Energy, Poverty, and Gender in Agro Processing (EPGAP) Project promotes the adoption of improved cook stoves and other renewable energy technologies for use by small and medium scale industries to reduce fuel wood consumption and deforestation, increase income, enhance business operations, and ensure environmental sustainability.

The project is undertaken in Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger. The project has reached approximately 30,000 women, men, and children within a period of 20 months.

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Until the inception of the EPGAP Project, most small and medium scale agro-processors in Ghana used the 3-stone stove. The Energy, Poverty, and Gender in Agro Processing (EPGAP) Project promoted the adoption of improved cook stoves and other renewable energy technologies for use by small and medium scale agro-processing industries to reduce fuelwood consumption and deforestation, increase income, enhance business operations, and ensure environmental sustainability.
 
Pito brewing, shea butter production and rice-parboiling are three agro-processing activities widely conducted in Ghana. These agro-processing activities provide an important source of income for otherwise cash-poor households. These income generating activities demands hard work: mainly through manual labour and with inefficient tools (like traditional stoves), and are mostly conducted under difficult conditions (heat and smoke) - which unfortunately, generates marginal incomes.
 
Until the inception of the EPGAP Project, most of these small and medium scale agro-processors in Ghana used 3-stone stoves for their processing. Incidentally, using these traditional stoves and methods have considerable disadvantages namely: high fuelwood consumption and expenditure, increased deforestation, elevated smoke inhalation, heat exposure and associated health risks, low production capacity, excessive/avoidable drudgery and low product quality. These factors contribute to: low profit margins, less spending options, poverty, and low quality of life - mostly, for women and children. 
 
In addressing these challenges, the EPGAP Project has empowered many Sheabutter processors, Rice Parboilers and Pito Brewers - who are mainly women who rely heavily on wood as a source of fuel - to switch from the traditional 3-stone open-fire stove to improved cookstoves. Our project has also facilitated the cultivation of Cooperative Woodlots in Northern Ghana to ensure sustainable supply of fuelwood for these women-dominated industries. Additionally, the EPGAP Project has supported community-based agro-processors to acquire adequate machinery aimed at promoting sustainable agri-businesses through their access to improved technology which eventually led to improvements in production processes, product quality and income.
The EPGAP project operated in the regions of Koulikoro (circles of Koulikoro, Dioïla), Sikasso (circles of Bougouni, Sikasso and Koutiala) and the district of Bamako, Mali.
The project is funded by DGIS and will be executed over a period of 23 months (January 1, 2014 - November 30, 2015) and primarily targets the women involved in the activities of processing food as well as the craftsmen who develop renewable energy technologies.
 
The overall objective of the EPGAP project is to increase the productivity of the transformation process in the value chains of shea butter, rice (especially steamed), fruits, vegetables and dry cereals (corn, millet, sorghum, fonio) by promoting the adoption and use of contextualized renewable energy solutions, while strengthening the capacity of local organizations to run successful and profitable businesses.
This project promotes improved cookstoves and other technologies of renewable energy use in small and medium enterprises processing agricultural and non-timber forest products to reduce the consumption of firewood, to increase revenues and improve working conditions. As many women are involved in small and medium enterprises activities, this project will benefit especially to women, girls and children.
 
The main impacts expected in the project are:
 
  • Reduced deforestation;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and registration of the project on the voluntary carbon credit market;
  • Increased income for women involved in agro-processing;
  • Improved health of women involved in agro-processing;

To achieve these impacts, the project is organized around 5 components:

  1. Organizational and technical capacities building for the actors involved (agro-processing women workers’ groups and local equipment producers);
  2. Transformation process profiling;
  3. Piloting of improvement activities (SNV helps to choose the most promising option), based on the following criteria: financial sustainability, social acceptability, ease of implementation and the possibility to get financing for carbon credit;
  4. Creating an enabling environment;
  5. The successful implementation / upscaling of the project.
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