Imiseba – Maize Charcoal

Backgrounds and motives for the project “Imiseba”

Many of us enjoy the barbecue evenings in summer. But are you aware that the barbecue charcoal is often made of tropical wood? A test conducted by WWF Germany in 2018 showed that almost every second product tested was made from tropical wood and that the wood often came from overexploitation and illegal logging.

Wood and charcoal are used worldwide for cooking and heating. Zambia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. An estimated 250,000 – 300,000 hectares of forested land are deforested annually – with the main reason being the production of charcoal. If we continue at this pace, experts say, there may be no trees left by 2030. About 90% of the population use charcoal-based energy sources and more than 75% of households depend on it.

The good news, however, is that there are alternatives to charcoal. One of them is corncobs (central core of an ear of corn without kernels). Often they are regarded a waste product; yet they could be used as a substitute for charcoal. Maize is the most cultivated crop in Zambia and since the national dish Nshima is made from maize, many corncobs remain every day.

We want to do something about deforestation and at the same time create income opportunities for the population in Kabwe. Due to the increased prices for charcoal in recent years in Zambia, the transition from charcoal to corncobs could have an additional positive effect on the inhabitants of Kabwe in terms of saving money. That is why we will launch the “Imiseba” project.