Briquette business helping out rural women

ITAHARI: Twenty-year old Anju Dhamala of Itahari-2, Shantinagar, is hardly ever free these days. A BBS student in Rastriya Janasahayog Higher Secondary School in Hansposa-2, she manages to attend her classes besides spending a considerable amount of time making briquettes.

Dhamala said sometimes she gets no time to have food well in the morning. Many other women have been attracted to the noble industry as their product has a good demand in the market. Many of them have also been financially independent after being involved in the job. A briquette is a block made from charcoal or coal dust and burned as fuel. It is smoke-free and conserves forest by replacing firewood.

"I go to the local community forest with my mother early in the morning to collect raw material," Dhamala said. "I have started contributing to the family budget and pay my college fees on my own." A member of Jagriti Women Entrepreneurs' Group, she earns more than Rs 100 daily.

Community forest users' group bought them a machine for the purpose. Laxmi Bhattarai (50) is equally involved in forming coal, beating it into dust and making briquettes out of it. The Rs 150,000 machine has provided employment opportunity for more than a dozen of local women.

Women living in the buffer zone of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve are also involved in the business. The Darwin Project has promoted the activity by forming women's groups in order to provide opportunities of income generation.