New food-energy venture in Mozambique

FPANov1Novozymes and CleanStar Ventures are partnering to create an integrated food-energy business that will increase Mozambiquan farmers’ incomes, save thousands of acres of forest every year, and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing thousands of charcoal-burning cookstoves with cleaner ethanol stoves.

CleanStar Mozambique aims to address a range of problems, including land degradation, poor health, and energy poverty. The company plans to work with smallholder farmers to implement sustainable farming practices, create a food and ethanol cooking fuel production facility, and lay the groundwork for economically and ecologically sustainable communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Under CleanStar Mozambique’s business model, thousands of farmers will have the opportunity to transition from charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture to cultivating a diverse range of crops and trees, which will significantly improve their income and nutrition levels while rehabilitating degraded soils and enhancing biodiversity.
Whatever the families do not consume themselves, they can sell to CleanStar Mozambique. The company will produce a range of food products as well as an ethanol-based cooking fuel made from cassava, which will be sold into urban markets.
Throughout Africa, more than 80% of urban families buy charcoal to cook their food. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), when women and children breathe charcoal smoke, the health impact is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes per day. The WHO estimates that nearly 2m people a year die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use, including charcoal.
Charcoal usage is also a major driver in the mass deforestation across Africa, where every year millions of trees are cleared to produce charcoal. By 2014, CleanStar Mozambique plans to supply 20% of households in Mozambique’s capital Maputo with a clean and competitive alternative to charcoal – to improve family health and protect 9,000 acres of indigenous forest per year.
Thomas Nagy, executive vice-president of Novozymes, says: “This business model can be replicated and scaled throughout the developing world. With CleanStar Mozambique, we hope to show how biotechnology can catalyse the development of agriculture, food, and ethanol industries in developing countries, and create new bio-based markets that benefit local communities and the environment.”
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, producing food and energy side by side may offer one of the best formulas for boosting a country’s food and energy security, while simultaneously reducing poverty.
CleanStar Ventures and Novozymes are partnering with a number of other companies in this venture:
• Swedish consumer durables company, Dometic manufactures the CleanCook ethanol stove being retailed by CleanStar Mozambique. The company describes the CleanCook stove as a high-performing stove, equivalent in
power and temperature to an LPG stove.  The stove contains a non-pressurised, no-spill fuel tank that can hold ethanol. The canister holds an absorbent mineral fibre covered by a protective metal mesh, preventing fuel from spilling from the canister even when the stove is turned upside down. The manufacturer also claims that the fuel tank design eliminates the risk of explosion and flare-up, and that together with other built-in safety features; the stove is less likely to cause burns than other cooking methods.
• Zoe Enterprises is the lead franchisee for the CleanCook stove and CleanStar liquid cooking fuel in Maputo.
• Specialist cook stove carbon consultancy, Impact Carbon assists clients to monetise carbon emissions reductions within voluntary and compliance markets.
• Community-based forest protection business AD Schwarz designs, produces and retails high-value products from Mozambique’s forests. It uses the income generated to advise on and fund reforestation programmes throughout the country.
For more information about this initiative, visit: www.cleanstarmozambique.com