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Using Precooked Beans to Save on Impact of Cooking

At a factory in Uganda's capital, Kampala, workers steam-cook beans in big metal containers, before cooling and packaging them for sale. The beans can be reheated in 15 minutes or less, requiring far less firewood than the two to three hours it would take to cook them from scratch.

This public-private initiative, being tested in Uganda and Kenya with funding from Canada's International Development Research Centre, also aims to increase bean consumption, improve diets, and create a more profitable market for bean farmers.

According to Joab Ouma of Lasting Solutions, a Ugandan company that is involved in preparing the beans, rural people usually use firewood for cooking, while charcoal is the main fuel in urban areas.

Those fuels are a direct cause of deforestation, yet until now the poorest consumers "had no choice" but to use them, Ouma said.

Rebecca Siegel

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