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.