It is not an ordinary basket as your mind would immediately imagine, however, it is pretty appealing and unique in the dawn of renewable energy! Then what makes it extraordinary?
Not until I had been involved with the Joint Energy and Environment Projects (JEEP) folkecenter in Kyanja on Gayaza Road, Kampala-Uganda, did I come across hay baskets which originally obtained its name from hay – dried grass. I discovered that it obtained its name from hay – dried grass.
During one of the demonstration tours at the JEEP folkecenter, I was initially introduced into the world of solar technologies, which left a profound impression on me in the climate change mitigation initiative in Uganda.
Different sizes of hay baskets created by Alice Nanteza at the JEEP folkecenter
Thinking about African women from the grassroots community who depend on fuel (firewood) to sustain their standard of living, concepts of renewable energy; solar lamps, energy cook stoves, fuel cookers and hay baskets for warming food would definitely appeal to their circumstances compared to women living in Kampala whose standard of living is fairly different.
In developing countries, hay baskets are used in combination with stoves, solar cookers or fuel cookers to preserve scarce and valuable resources which cater for the needs of the grassroots household communities who can barely afford fuel. Therefore in rural communities, the economic benefit of using renewable energy cook stoves is far greater and with a combination of hay baskets have the capacity to extend their meager resources, although we must refrain from thinking that the idea of solar renewable energy is predominantly for poor communities. We must we are living in the age where communities must adopt the use of renewable energy technologies and devise sustainable ways to address the climate change impacts.
Alice Nanteza show casing one of the hay baskets she made and sold it at UGX 40.000/- with an inserted cooking vessel
The hay baskets caught my eye during my demonstration tour at JEEP and these baskets are simply a designed contraption made out of reeds obtained from papyrus and molded into a basket. The inner part is stuffed with thick cotton and shielded with polythene and a thick black cotton material which is sewed onto the polythene. The circular cover which is also stuffed with thick cotton and sewed with inner black cloth is created in such a way that it is measured precisely to fit the basket.
The inner material used must be black in colour although the outer covering material can be different.
How does it work?
Since it works as a fireless cooker, foods like rice in a saucepan can be prepared halfway over a flame and transferred to a well insulated container and in our case – Hay Baskets which cooks for a period of time until it is ready! It is covered well and fitted securely to permit sufficient heat retention hence maintaining warmth.
Therefore, the warmth of the food can be retained by placing the cooking vessel in the hay basket for as long as possible until your food is ready to be served – allowing for a timely and warm delicious meal as seen in the pictures. The cotton and the black material preserves warmth – acting as insulators. The inner polythene protects any food stains or sauce from shrinking the cotton and even if the cloth is stained with sauce, it can be easily washed and dried for future use.
Are you still living in a climate denial like I was? Get fired up and come visit our demonstration center – JEEP folkecenter which is endowed with diverse tree species planted, hay baskets (fireless cookers), in-built solar cook stoves and solar renewable technologies in our ecological sustainability initiatives in Uganda.
Ann Grace Apita
Information & Partnership with JEEP