Parbati Kusulia with her low-smoke cook-stove.
Parbati Kusulia hails from Chatikona village, situated at the foothills of the Niyamgiri Range, in the Rayagada district of Odisha. Her husband, a farmer, cultivates paddy (rice) on the small plot of land the family owns. Most of the paddy is used to feed their own family. Almost a year ago, Parbati took a loan from Milaap to purchase a solar lantern, but went on to purchase a low-smoke cook-stove instead. She now spends only about 2.5 to 3 hours every day on cooking, as against 5 to 7 hours previously while using the makeshift cook-stove.
When I asked about the change she experienced while cooking using the new cook-stove, she explained the ordeal she went through while using the old one. Her eyes would tear up very often and her head would ache during those long hours she spent in the kitchen breathing in the smoke from the old cook-stove. Thanks to the low-smoke cook-stove, these tormenting issues are now things of the past. Earlier, firewood worth Rs.400 would last only 3 days. But now, the same worth of fuel lasts up to 8 days. There is absolutely no wastage of firewood. During rainy season, if ever parts of the firewood get moist, the firewood would still burn completely in this cook-stove. The compact nature of the cook-stove proved to be a big help for Parbati a couple of months ago. She shared with me the story of how she carried the cook-stove to a nearby hospital where her elder son’s wife delivered a baby. Parbati could provide her daughter-in-law with nutritious food cooked “on the spot” regularly and help the new mother recover her health.