YINCHUAN, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Ma Shouxi sat beside his solar cooker, waiting for the water to boil. He even tore off a piece of paper from his son's book and put it under the kettle to show the cooker's "magic effect".
"Look, it (the paper) burns within three seconds," said the 30-year-old farmer, smiling like a child.
Ma lives in an outlying village in Pengyang County, Guyuan Cityin northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. His family barely make ends meet with their meagre income from the corn and cattle they grow and rear on the dry and poor land.
The farmer had never imagined that one day he might use this type of cooker, not to mention having it for free.
"I have no extra money to buy a solar cooker," Ma said.
So when he was given a solar cooker for free, he deemed it as "pennies from heaven".
Even months later, he still had no idea why a company gave him the free cooker, but he knows that by using the device he can reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Reducing greenhouse gases is a growing concern for all humanity, living under the threat of climate change. But this is a subject Ma, in his remote village, had never heard before.
"I only know we do not need any longer to burn corn stalks or coal to cook meals," he said, "so, we can cut our household costs."
Ma is just one example of poor Chinese farmers who benefit from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a global initiative to reduce greenhouse gases.
CDM is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol that allows industrialized nations to support projects to reduce emissions in developing nations as an alternative to more expensive projects at home.
The CDM project, which Ma took part in, is jointly conducted by a Ningxia-based company and the Environmental Center of Beijing-based Tsinghua University.
Ningxia Fenglian Co. Ltd. will send out 120,000 free solar cookers to poor farmers in south Ningxia in 2009 and 2011.
The company has sent out 3,400 solar cookers in Pengyang County. Another 68,000 such cookers will be sent to farmers in counties like Haiyuan, Tongxin and Longde in 2009. And the rest are to be sent out in 2011.
"About 600,000 poor farmers, 10 percent of Ningxia's population, will benefit from this project," said Wang Running, chairman of Ningxia Fenglian Co. Ltd.
The farmers are expected to use 1.2 million tonnes less coal within the 10-year implementation period, thus saving 600 million yuan (87.8 million U.S. dollars), Wang said.
The project will also help reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 2.5 million tonnes over the 10 years, he added.
"The project can both help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and ease poverty," said Wang Chan, a professor with the Environmental Center of Tsinghua University.
Wang noted that the project can be used as a template and can be introduced into African countries to help ease poverty, which also have abundant solar energy opportunities.