KAMPONG THOM PROVINCE – A local rice exporting enterprise has joined hands with a Japanese technology company to pilot producing briquettes from rice husk in a move it hopes will encourage the country’s manufacturing sector to shift away from using traditional fuel wood and use rice husk briquettes to energize their boilers.
Amru Rice, one of Cambodia’s largest rice exporting firms, has partnered with Hiroshima-based TROMSO to make rice husk briquettes at its Kampong Thom rice mill using a shipbuilding technology from Japan.
Kann Kunthy, Vice President of Amru Rice, said the pilot project is promising when it comes to how the rice husk briquettes benefit the environment. However, he added, more needs to be done.
“If we think about the environment, it is very promising. If we think about the shifting mindset to using [these rice husk briquettes], we need more support from the government and NGOs, especially at this very early stage,” said Kunthy.
“We need to do more research to develop marketing materials to raise market awareness. When it reaches a point that it scales, the project will take off on its own,” he added.
Recently, some 20 representatives from the country’s manufacturing sector visited Amru Rice’s rice husk briquette production technology in Kampong Thom province to study the new green products.
The field visit organized by UNIDO was intended to expose the manufacturing industry players to Japanese technology. It was also attended by Tung Ciny, secretary of state from the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation (MISTI), UNIDO staff and representatives from the manufacturing sector.
At the site, Masaaki Uesugi, CEO of TROMSO Co., Ltd. – the Japanese firm that makes the machines to produce rice husk briquettes – demonstrated the potential advantages of the environmentally-sound rice husk briquettes to visitors.
Some of the advantages, according to Uesugi, of the rice husk briquettes are that they are environmentally sound and burn well in terms of calorific value compared with fuel wood.
“Our past experiences include those in Madagascar, where an essential oil-making plant uses rice husk briquettes instead of fuelwood for their boilers. In Nigeria, rice mills use rice husk briquettes to boil rice grains. India started using rice husk briquettes three years ago in factories that traditionally use charcoal as fuel and now 30 percent has been replaced by rice husk briquettes,” said Uesugi, through a translator.
“In Madagascar, the level of deforestation has been so high that they have no more forests to cut now, so they must look to something else as an alternative to wood fuel,” he added.
Cambodia produces some 12 million tons of rice per year, according to Kunthy, and one ton of unhusked rice produces 25 percent of rice husk.
Kaing Monika, deputy secretary general at the Textile, Apparel, Footwear & Travel Goods Association in Cambodia – TAFTAC – formerly known as GMAC, said the association backs the pilot initiative.
“We fully support this and are very glad if this local production of briquettes is available at competitive prices. We will spread the information among our members and encourage them to use it,” said Monika.
Since early 2020, Monika said the association has implemented the promotion of clean energy and energy efficiency in factories. Apart from renewable solar energy, other alternatives have been explored, including efficient and environmentally-friendly boilers.
For the rice husk briquettes, Monika said he has concern over the challenge of providing a competitive and stable local supply.
According to TROMSO, currently two garment factories have agreed to volunteer using the rice husk briquettes, with each receiving 15 tons of rice husk briquettes to energize their boilers.
TROMSO said it will share the test results of these two factories when the pilot period is complete.