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How CleanStar Mozambique fights Hunger

CleanStar Mozambique is a project of Novozymes, a Danish biotech company, specializing in enzymes. What are they doing in Mozambique? They have a production facility there, using enzymes to turn starch from cassava into ethanol. It is an interesting idea, but what does it have to do with hunger? This next part is very clever.

CleanStar Mozambique pays local farmers to grow cassava for their ethanol project. They help local farmers to grow grains and legumes, as well as cassava. They supply seed and technical expertise. They help the farmers bring the food surplus to market. The farmer ends up with food for his family to eat, as well as money from cassava for ethanol and money from surplus food sold in the marketplace.

The ethanol portion of the project includes making the ethanol from cassava, selling it through locally-hired sales persons door-to-door and in open-air markets. CleanStar also designed, and sells at cost, an alcohol stove. The stove is also sold door-to-door and in the markets.

I own several different small alcohol stoves: two I bought in the U.S. and two I designed and built myself. The CleanStar alcohol stove is an excellent design, far outstripping most of the commercially-available stoves in the U.S. The stove was designed by Dometic, a company that makes alcohol stoves for RV and Marine use. The CleanStar stove benefits from that pedigree; it is a high-end alcohol stove, using carbon felt to hold the alcohol.

This CleanStar project, which provides alcohol stoves and cassava-derived fuel alcohol, is revitalizing the local economy with money for farmers and jobs for sales persons. It improves the health of families who use an alcohol stove for cooking, rather than charcoal. Charcoal is made by slash-and-burn technique from the local forests. The fumes and soot from cooking with charcoal harms the lungs. The CleanStar alcohol stoves are clean-burning.

Money has a great deal to do with hunger. There are no hungry rich persons. Poverty and hunger are two different sides of the same coin. By providing money to farmers for growing cassava, grains, and legumes, CleanStar transforms subsistence farmers, who barely grow enough food to survive, into commercial farmers, who grow enough food to sell to other persons. And the farmers can then afford to hire workers. The workers can then afford to buy food. It is a non-vicious cycle. And it is one example of a type of project that moves us one step closer to ending hunger.

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