Benin: New stove boosts income for women rice farmers (Inter Press Service)

| April 25, 2016

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Salabanya Tabaitou no longer squints from the irritating wood smoke every time she parboils her rice. Now, she feeds logs into the chute of a specially-designed brick stove with a chimney that draws away the smoke.

Mrs. Tabaitou is a rice farmer in Malanville, Benin, located near the border with Niger. More than 50% of rice farmers in Africa are women, and parboiling rice is hard work.

The new stove—which contains a stainless steel parboiling vessel—uses less wood and water than the traditional system. It also features hoists and rails that lift and move the heavy pots which hold the rice. It cooks rice in 20 minutes, a task that would have taken two hours with the traditional method.

Mrs. Tabaitou is very happy with her heat-efficient stove and new GEM parboiler, which was developed by AfricaRice. She says, “The stove has made parboiling a pleasant activity, less strenuous, and something I look forward to doing because I work with a team, unlike in the past when I parboiled alone.”

Parboiling involves partially boiling rice in the husk before it is milled. The process protects rice from breaking during milling, preserves nutrients, and enhances quality. Parboiled rice fetches a higher price, and is in high demand in Benin and other parts of West and Central Africa.

AfricaRice is a pan-African research organization that focuses on new technologies to help women produce nutritious, better-quality local rice. The organization brings farmers and experts together to form “innovation platforms”—groups that share information and knowledge to promote the adoption of new technologies and practices.

Dr. Sidi Sanyang is the leader of the rice sector development program for AfricaRice. He says the women in the innovation groups have more than doubled the quantity of rice they can parboil—and have doubled their income—by using the GEM parboiler.

With the traditional system, women could process only about 120 kilograms of paddy per session. But with the new stove and parboiler, they can process up to 400 kilograms per session, and are aiming to increase that amount to one tonne.

Dr. Sanyang explains, “They were selling less than two tonnes of rice a month. Now they are selling up to five tonnes of rice per month.”

The new stove and parboiler means greater income and an easier workload for the women. Mrs. Tabaitou says she appreciates the new technology. She adds: “We are confident that this platform and the technologies that we have access to for parboiling our rice will increase our income because the GEM parboiling technology has reduced the labour, and the rice we produce is of better quality … [and requires] less time to parboil.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, Innovations Boost Income for Women Rice Farmers, go to:

Photo credit: IPS