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Energy-saving baking brings in extra dough

Written by Siphiwe Nyathi
Four Mpumalanga women have found an awardwinning way to reuse energy to bake bread and buns for their township customers

Women at the Vuka-uzenzele Project prepare dough at the Sehlulile Primary School in Matsulu outside Mbombela. The women, who run Vuka-uzenzele Project, work as volunteer cooks for the Sehlulile Primary School feeding scheme in Matsulu, east of Mbombela. “After cooking for the children and serving their meals, the clay oven is hot enough for us to remove the ashes and start baking for as long as we want without burning our bread,” said project member Lindiwe Nkosi.

Nkosi said the oven was built by pupils at the school as part of the feeding scheme.

The women soon realised that the oven remains hot long after they are done cooking. “We were sitting under a tree when we realised that the oven retained a lot of energy after we have cooked. We realised that together we can bake bread, scones and buns to sell to the teachers and community by using the same methods as our ancestors.

“We don’t spend money on wood as it is delivered at the school for free and we wait until we are done cooking before we start baking. We are also humbled by the support from the teachers as it encourages us to work hard,” said Nkosi.

 The clay oven can accommodate 10 bread trays, which is enough to make them a profit. Nkosi has even calculated how much money they save by using the clay oven.

Lindiwe Nkosi checks bread and scones in the clay oven.“We bake four times an hour every day and this method saves 380kWh and R228 a month when compared to using a conventional oven. “We are preventing 4 468.8kg of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year,” she added.

The project’s efforts to save energy did not go unnoticed.

They were runners-up at the Eskom eta Awards in the community category.

The purpose of the awards, which are named after the Greek symbol of efficiency, is to reward exceptional efforts in efficient use of energy by individuals, students, companies or other institutions.

Vuka-uzenzele Project won R5 000, which they plan to re-invest in the project.

“Since we work as volunteers at the school, the project helps us maintain our families and also put food on the table,” said another project member Norah Sibiya