Introducing Hay Box in MSSRF(Jeypore,Orissa) project Villages

About the product

Hay box marketed as “EZ cooker” is a cooker cum hot box developed by AID srikakulam, a subsidiary of NGO AID India (Association of India Development). Experimenting with solar thermal models for water heating and looking for a cheap insulator that would retain heat for a long time, AID srikakulam stumbled upon a traditional practice: using hay for cooking rice. In this method, rice is brought to a boil and then transferred to a haybox where it cooks in its own heat without a flame. Adapting this idea for srikakulam villages, AID srikakulam designed a haybox made entirely of local material and also supporting livelihoods of the bamboo artisans. The raw material needed to make this cooker is bamboo, jute and paddy straw. The design is cost effective – the cooker is priced at Rs 80 and is affordable by families dependent on daily wage work in agriculture.

Village women spend two hours / week collecting firewood and about 45 minutes per meal just for cooking rice. Since they use firewood and cannot reduce the flame, they add 4 cups water to 1 cup rice to prevent burning. In the haybox method, since they remove the vessel from the flame when the rice comes to a boil, there is no risk of burning. Thus they can use 2 cups water for 1 cup rice and bring the vessel to a boil in 10-15 minutes, saving 30 – 35 minutes time for every meal. This saves considerably on firewood and greenhouse gases. The hay box comes in 3 sizes – 1 kg, 2 kg and 3/4 kg capacity cookers. The cooked rice also remains hot for 6 to 8 hours. Rice, biriyani and khichdi can be prepared using hay box.

Implementation Strategy

This product is perfectly suitable for the villagers where I am working at present. The idea is to introduce this product in the MSSRF, Jeypore project villages and see the acceptability of the product among the tribals here.It is one of the few products that is made in the village and also sold in the village. Manufacturing and selling hay boxes can be a good livelihood activity for women in the villages and also supports bamboo weavers if the product can be marketed well.  5 villages have been shortlisted to introduce this product. The villages are – Nuaguda, Guntaguda, Boliguda, Pakanaguda and Maliguda.

The strategy to introduce the product is as follows:

  1. Explain about the product (design, working and uses) to the villagers in each of the respective villages and give a live demonstration in front of the people and study their initial response.
  2. Leave the product in the village for individual households to test it and study the response of at least 5 households and document the findings in a village response report.
  3. Arrange a village meeting and explain about the product’s potential as a livelihood activity – the cost involved, the selling price and the market reach.
  4. Select or form a Self Help Group (women or men/women) so that training can be imparted on the manufacturing process.

Points to Remember

  • Weaving the bamboo basket needs skill which cannot be easily acquired by people even if they are trained. So there are two options on how to go about this –
    • One option is to find skilled labour in the village and ask them to make bamboo baskets which will be used by the SHG to finish rest of the product.
    • Another option is to outsource the making of bamboo basket to the bamboo weaving community and buy the basket from them. The SHG can then use the basket to finish rest of the product.
    • Have to remember that people will only take up manufacturing if they see this as a profit making activity. So pricing and marketing is very important to make this a successful livelihood activity.
    • Also right kind of people should be selected when forming an SHG. Community and MSSRF should both decide on who should be in the SHG.
Village Demo’s

My team here has already demonstrated this product in three villages and initial response has been good so far.Mr.Surya narayana from AID Srikakulam visited MSSRF,Jeypore with his team and was present with us for one of the hay box demos in the village. I left the product in the village itself for individual households to test it. I have arranged village meeting’s next week in each of the villages to get the feedback on the product so that the next step can be planned accordingly.


~ by vineethpvb on September 10, 2011.

5 Responses to “Introducing Hay Box in MSSRF(Jeypore,Orissa) project Villages”

  1. Hey Vineeth, great blog… to make it more affordable to the tribal communities you could also see if there are artisans in the villages who work with desi cane and reeds…Ez-cookers can be made of anything… we chose bamboo as it was readily available here in Srikakulam, but in Tamil Nadu we made Ez-Cookers from reeds as bamboo was scarce and expensive, they worked just as well… the lining can be replaced with cloth and even the insulation can be replaced by dry grass, reeds or even maze husks… the art comes in binding it into a rope and coiling it into the basket…

  2. thanx for the info peter…….bamboo is also readily available here…. i have actually asked few artisans to make a basket similar to one used for the easy cooker… want to see whether they can do it or not…. the baskets that they normally make here are actually pretty thin (i.e single layer)… so am waiting to see whether they can do it or not. but the point is they are interested to learn the art… so if they cant make the basket according to our satisfaction we have to provide them some training …. a one or two day training should be enough for them.

  3. Very nice Vineeth! What are you working with these days ?


    • hi asti…. how r u doing?

      am working in koraput district of orissa with MS Swaminathan Research foundation. Am on a one year fellowship till Feb 2012.

      working on food security issues and livelihood…… kitchen garden, community grain banks, etc…..

  4. Hey great stuff Vineeth! Nice blog!

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