According to TERI the rural population in India relies heavily on traditional biomass based fuels (fuelwood, crop residues and animal dung) for meeting its energy needs. Approximately 96% of rural households are estimated to be using bio fuels. Fuelwood is the primary energy source for cooking used by Rural households (78%) (TERI 1999). The gap between consumption and recorded production of fuelwood is increasing indicating the seriousness of fuel wood problem according to TERI data. (Rural energy data sources and estimations in India).
According to an article published in The Business Standard in August 2015, 67% of rural India still depends on firewood for its energy needs. In Shimoga firewood is still the main energy source amongst the farmers resulting in continual deforestation. Secondly, most farming practices in the region are labour intensive because of the rough terrain, and less motivated to use updated tools.
Harsh work and labour intensive farming are also a cause for concern, as these factors are eventually discouraging people from continuing with sustainable living practices such as kitchen gardening etc. and the practice of chopping off entire branches of trees to harvest honey or tender mangoes – leading to a rapid loss of habitat for forest animals e.g. Monkeys, birds, bees, insects etc. Further, this adds to the loss of ecological balance and forest health and eventually depletion of water retention/ table.
This has posed a significant detriment to self-sufficient lifestyle practices of the past: and the dependency on firewood remains unchecked.
The focus of this workshop (to be held in 2017) would be to address pressing concerns of energy consumption and it’s impact on crucial environmental factors such as rainfall in the region.
2017 Workshop: ENERGY: INNOVATION & SUSTAINABILITY
The workshop will include the demonstration of various kinds of firewood stoves that are energy efficient alternatives to existing ones. The main aims of the workshop are:
- To demonstrate energy efficient innovations for firewood based energy consumption e.g. demonstrations and exhibition of cooking stoves from traditional ones to the modern energy efficient ones.
- To engage farmers in a debate on grassroots innovations that may help in reducing labour intensiveness of their farming practices
- To link the energy consumption and waste to the detriments caused to the ecosystem, e.g. less rainfall leads to less water retention, which leads to increase in bore-wells, which leads to lower water table etc.
- To provide hands-on experience of using and testing different kinds of firewood stoves and other alternative energy solutions
- To demonstrate and build bio gas chamber from kitchen waste
- To encourage ideas for grassroots entrepreneurship that may, in turn, bring economic incentives to the farmers
- To prompt further examination and experimentation for innovations specific to the regional energy consumption practices.
- To showcase case studies of grassroots success stories such as Charaka which has generated economic opportunities locally; and Organic India which has brought forth narratives of biodiverse foods via their products.
The implementation of the workshop will focus on direct engagement with the farmers. Interactive sessions will be conducted in order to maximise opportunities for farmers to offer their concerns. The proposed agendas for the sessions are as follows:
Putting the community first
- Listening to the local survival problems and find solutions (in order enable anticipation of issues and investigating opportunities for mitigation via innovative solutions).
Innovation focussed on the basics of sustainability i.e. water, food, energy
- Giving out essential information on conservation methods,
- Understanding the sources of water
- Giving out information on dangers of continual bore-welling and depletion of water table
- Offering information of detriments of deforestation posed to rainfall and the resulting lack of water retention
- Popularising multi crop organic farming/ kitchen gardening/ local naturally growing of foods.
- Popularising the local food/ forest food delicacies/ recipe culture.
- Demonstrating forest food culinary recipes that will be cooked and served to the participants in order to encourage them to come up with their own neglected local delicacies
- Basic energy solutions: basic firewood/ cooking solutions with the aim of bringing down the usage of firewood
- Visual media exhibition relating consequences related to firewood related deforestation.
- Also look at the affordability and adoption of other energy sources like kitchen waste biogas chambers, solar based cookers etc.
- Hot water solutions as this region uses hot water for bathing throughout the year.
- To enable the availability of government subsidies for innovative energy solutions.
- Generating alternative economic opportunities with a focus on grassroots solutions, innovation, and mitigation of existing issues e.g. enabling local production of modern firewood cooking stoves etc.
- Investigating potential markets for naturally grown/ organic foods, natural medicinal herbs, organic fruit.
- Popularising indigenous dairy
- Generating markets for cottage industry