Cow Dung Alternative
A kind of alternative to firewood used for cooking has recently gained popularity among the rural people of Moulvibazar. Village women are making fuel by burning cow dung. This is much cheaper and so village people have been able to reduce their expenditure of firewood on the one hand; the pressure on trees and plants to satisfy the demand for firewood has also come down greatly.
During a recent visit to different villages of Kulaura, Rajnagar, Kamalganj and Sadar upazila, it was seen that village women were engaged in getting cow dung to do the job of firewood. In most of these homes lumps of cow dung were being let out to dry under the sun in the backyard.
Promudini Pal of Dhewpasa village under Sadar upazila and Jolly Akhter of Sunatiki village under Rajnagar upazila, while making the cow dung 'firewood', said that it wasn't just cow dung- the husk of paddy was also a component of this alternative to wood. They prepared a mixture of cow dung and husk of paddy. Then this mixture was put in a jute or bamboo stick to make a roller. After that, these rollers were dried up in the sunlight. When this dries it is ready for use.
They said they usually make cow dung 'firewood' in the winter. Not only is the demand for highest around that time, the supply of cow dung and husk is high in that season. In rural areas, there is often an acute crisis of firewood in the spring.
However, Ramananda Debnath, Senior Lecturer at the Chemistry Department, Rajnagar Degree College said, though it was a cheap source of firewood, and very tempting for rural people to save their money burning cow dung rather than wood, there were bad side effects to its usage. For example, as result of cow dung being used instead of firewood, the availability of cow dung as fertiliser for the crop fields was going down. Cow dung is known as the best organic fertiliser. If cow dung in larger quantities keeps getting diverted then there may not be enough to meet the needs for organic fertiliser. To prevent this loss, he encouraged rural folks not to use cow dung as burning material.
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