Producing rural energy from cassava waste

Producing rural energy from cassava waste

CleanStar Mozambique sustainable cooking fuel facility (Video 02:52). The biofuel manufacturing plant enables innovative food and household energy venture to improve family health, increase farmer incomes and nutrition, and protect Mozambique’s forests.

CleanStar Mozambique is an integrated food, energy, and forest protection business that works with farmers to grow a variety of crops that it then processes into food and cooking fuel products for sale in local markets.

CleanStar Mozambique helps participating farmers transition from slash-and-burn subsistence farming to a “conservation-agriculture” based approach that produces sustainable crop surpluses and boosts their income. The company provides the farmers with improved planting materials and technical assistance and then purchases whatever food products the families themselves do not consume at rural agricultural centers based around the company’s first integrated processing plant in Dondo.

Surplus cassava is converted to ethanol-based cooking fuel, flour, and chicken feed, while surplus beans, sorghum, pulses, and soya are processed into packaged food products for sale in Mozambique’s cities.

Each bottle of cooking fuel used in Maputo generates extra income and food for Mozambican farmers and prevents further deforestation from charcoal use. Over time, this steady flow of cash will help strengthen rural livelihoods and restore degraded landscapes.

The cooking fuel is bottled and sold along with modern cookstoves to low-income households in Maputo via the company’s own network of branded retail outlets. CleanStar’s cooking solution is a cleaner, faster, and safer alternative to charcoal, and priced to be directly cost competitive in urban markets. Charcoal prices have doubled in Maputo over the last three years and households now spend about a dollar a day on the fuel which requires valuable time to ignite and use. Cooking indoors with charcoal also seriously damages the health of those exposed to the noxious fumes, most often women and children.

16th October. Brussels. European Development Days.


Based in Brussels, PANGEA acts as a unified voice for its diverse membership; working to establish an enabling policy environment for African Bioenergy through lobbying, research, and regular events.

Tom answers following questions:

  • What are the research priorities for an NGO active in biofuel and sustainable energy?
  • Is rural energy receiving enough attention?
  • Who was involved in the clean cook stove initiative in Mozambique?
  • Is the clean cook stove initiative in Mozambique replicable?


Maria Doua of Mozambique cooks indoors
with an ethanol-fueled cooking stove,
in the Mozambican capital Maputo.
September 19, 2012. NEW YORK. Wall Street Journal. Soros Fund Invests in Mozambique Ethanol Project  – Billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros‘s nonprofit group has invested $6 million in an ethanol project in Mozambique that will offer families in the Southern African country an alternative to polluting charcoal.
Soros Economic Development Fund and the Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) (financed by the Danish Government) invest Millions in Food Security and Clean Cooking Venture in Africa. Funding for CleanStar Mozambique benefits smallholder farmers and the environment, creates jobs, and protects families from indoor air pollution 
To increase food security in Africa and stem the disastrous human and environmental costs of indoor cooking with charcoal, the Soros Economic Development Fund and the Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries invest nearly $9 million in CleanStar Mozambique, with the option to invest more in potential pan-African expansion.
Stewart Paperin SEDF
“CleanStar Mozambique has found a commercial and scalable way to alleviate poverty in Africa,” said Stewart Paperin, president of the Soros Economic Development Fund. “This venture creates jobs, increases food security, and has sustainable environmental benefits. We’d like to see the charcoal replacement business operate successfully in dozens of countries throughout the continent.”
With over $10 billion spent annually on charcoal-based cooking across the rapidly-urbanizing continent, CleanStar’s business model is likely to be feasible in over 40 major African cities.
The new investment will create 1,000 new jobs in Mozambique by late 2014 and will help to substantially improve the incomes of smallholder farmers. CleanStar Mozambique will be able to support 2,000 smallholder farming families to increase production of nutritious staple food crops and surplus cassava, with the latter being used to make ethanol-based cooking fuel.
Finn Jønck, IFU
The investment will also help the company expand its cooking fuel distribution and retail infrastructure to reach 80,000 customers in Maputo by late 2014. Each ethanol cook stove will enable net greenhouse gas emissions reductions of approximately eight tons of CO2-equivalent per year versus a traditional charcoal stove. Taken to scale, this business will significantly reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.
“Our team has seen this venture move from concept into implementation in record time,” said Finn Jønck, IFU’s Managing Director. “We are delighted to now come on board.”

About the Soros Economic Development Fund
The Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) is a nonprofit private foundation that is part of the Open Society Foundations, a network of charitable foundations created by investor and philanthropist George Soros. SEDF supports economic development in post-conflict countries and in nations transitioning to democracy. We promote economic opportunities and access to information, products and services for underserved populations. SEDF invests in sustainable businesses or initiatives that strive to alleviate poverty by creating jobs and revitalizing deteriorating communities. Established in 1997, SEDF has over $200 million in investment capital and employs 15 people in New York, Budapest, Freetown, Johannesburg and Nairobi.

About CleanStar Ventures
CleanStar Ventures is a venture development partnership that harnesses business and technology innovation to drive social development and environmental restoration. CleanStar Ventures combines early-stage risk capital, technology, and expertise to create sustainable long-term value for the customers, partners, and shareholders in its ventures. Headquartered in New York, CleanStar has portfolio ventures under development in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) is an independent self-governing fund established in 1967 by Act of Parliament. IFU is financed by the Danish Government with the purpose of promoting economic activity in developing countries by investing on commercial terms in these countries in partnership with Danish companies. Since 1967, IFU has made more than 750 investments in 85 countries with a total investment of more than $1.5 billion.

About Novozymes 

Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers across a broad array of industries we create tomorrow’s industrial biosolutions, improving our customers’ business and the use of our planet’s resources. With over 700 products used in 130 countries, Novozymes’ bioinnovations improve industrial performance and safeguard the world’s resources by offering superior and sustainable solutions for tomorrow’s ever-changing marketplace. 

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