When humidity reaches 93%, temperatures hover around 90 degrees, and storms bring heavy showers every day, nothing else matters more than cultivating the land. The vast majority of Chadians solely focus on working in the fields. The land is vast and offers the population's majority of its food stock for the rest of the year. Three-fourths of Chad is rural. Agriculture and stock farming are the country's main source of activity.
Cities in Chad are rapidly growing, but the majority of city dwellers stay attached to their parcels of land outside the city. Every year, the rainy season is the time to put aside other activities and spend the entire day planting seeds, tending the land, and often spending hours in knee-deep water. Small groups of people who work the same field stop working every few hours to huddle around a person who is there making tea.
Some of these cultivators are experts in carbonizing agricultural residue. All the members of our partner cooperatives are caring for their rice plantations, and many of them their sesame fields. This time, however, they are not just expecting earnings selling the seeds. They know that every sesame branch that grows has potential energy. This potential, once converted to energy, is a source of income through our Eco-Charcoal project. While these farmers contribute to the country's food supply, access to goods and services remain closed to the majority of rural Chad. Urban economic trends exert so much pressure on prices. What farmers earn is hardly enough for the food they really need to get from the cities to their villages. Commercial exchanges are all too often a one-way street.
Our 2012-2013 Eco-Charcoal program revealed the potential for rural Chad to provide cooking energy for urban Chad. Many challenges also came to light. Working within a context with an extraordinary amount of variables was only possible through Aquilas and Ghislain's leadership. They knew not always what to expect, but they knew not to get discouraged. They brought solutions when problems would arise.
Our production has yielded several results. The production team at Belaba produced several thousands of Eco-Charcoal briquettes during the intensive two-week production sessions. This allowed us to measure production capacity, identify areas of improvement, and start building a long-term production system. We also identified ways to help pyrolysis teams in the villages to improve the carbonization process. Though extremely simple in concept, the entire production system — from gathering the biomass to drying the briquettes — is exposed to unforeseeable pitfalls all along the way. Our goal now is to work on preventing all the possible disruptions. The following is an example: Rain is inevitable in Chad. Sometimes, storms can move through any area very rapidly with little time for people to take shelter. When large beds of briquettes are drying out in the sun, it is not easy to quickly remove them, especially when there are up to 2,000 briquettes drying out. Thus it is important to find the best way to remove them without damaging them. This is one of many examples of what our team is to take into consideration for next year's production.
Our entire team is grateful for your participation, generosity, and interest in this project. Please continue to support ENVODEV as the rainy season comes to an end. New opportunities will present themselves for us to train new pyrolysis teams. Your contribution will increase our impact and make our next production season more successful. A better production will give more households access to Eco-Charcoal.
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