For this project a women’s group harnesses the sun’s rays to power their creation of herbal teas on the island nation of Mauritius. Disadvantaged women run the “Solar-Powered Herbal Tea Production” project to manufacture sachets that are internationally marketed. The solar-powered business is giving the women an environmentally friendly way to make a living and better their lives.
The island nation of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, is small and isolated from larger continents. The country is underdeveloped, and people there often lack opportunities. The island is also home to a wide variety of plant species, including many that only exist there – but these plants are threatened as climate conditions on the island change.
Women in the Chemin Gremier village on Mauritius, with the support of the GEF Small Grants Programme, produce herbal and medicinal teas at a facility powered by solar panels. The project uses a building belonging to a local non-governmental organization that works to protect children. Women of disadvantaged children were trained cultivate the herbs in a top-floor greenhouse.
The herbs are dried in electric dehydrators powered by solar panels. Since the dehydrators use little energy, most of it is sold to the grid. This saves money in production, allowing the teas to be sold at a competitive price on the global market. The “Secret Grand mère” brand of teas includes 19 varieties, which are currently marketed in France and China.
Helping the planet
Solar energy is a clean, renewable, and sustainable source of power. It does not produce any byproducts or chemical emissions that pollute the water, land, or air, nor does it contribute to global warming. The project uses endemic plant species, contributing to the conservation of biodiversity.
The women involved in the project have been able to increase their incomes, which helps them to better support their families. They are now able to send their children to school with food and clean clothes. The tea recipes help preserve the practices of traditional medicine.
Production is planned to increase up to 8,000 sachets per month, with intended distribution in Germany and Africa. The facility acts as a demonstration site open to the public, and receives regional and international visitors. Since the project is cost-effective and market-based, its success is hoped to inspire others to engage in similar activities.
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