“We are just returning from Cameroon where we trained a group in the Southwest region that had downloaded our material on the ‘biochar system’ from the internet and invited then us to help them launch it”, says Professor Alessandro Peressotti. He was speaking at the Brussels-based Press Club Brussels Europe on the 8th of July 2016, sponsored by the ACP in collaboration with the European Union.
The topic of the discussion was “Biochar systems in developing countries: achievements and opportunities,” within the framework of the project “Energy, health, agricultural and environmental benefits from biochar use: building capacities in the ACP Countries- Biochar Plus.”
The top diplomats that took part in the discussion has one question upon arrival: What is the biochar systems?
In the panel discussion chaired by Madam Claudia Mularoni of the Pramata Insitutute, the team of experts was made up of Professor Alessandro Peressotti of the department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences of the University of Udine, Madame Lucia Brusegan, member of the European Affairs Alliance (eaa), and Mr. Bah F.M. Saho, Renewable Energy Expert of the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) explained the biochar technology through a film produced in Ghana, and a PowerPoint presentation.
Biochar, short form for “bio” and “charcoal” is a new approach to farming that has agriculture, environmental, health and economic benefits. The technology produces non-timber biomass fuel through the process of pyrolysis (gasification of matter (in this case for cooking on an Elsa stove) in order to obtain biochar that improves soil quality as well as stabilizing it.
The biochar technology uses crop residues, the largest source of non-timber biomass fuel like straw, stems, stalks, leaves, husks, shells, peel, lint, stones, pulp, stubble, peanuts shelves, etc. which come from cereals (such as, rice, wheat, maize or corn, sorghum, barley, millet), cotton, groundnut, jute, legumes (e.g. tomato, bean, soy), coffee, cocoa, olives, tea, fruits (e.g. banana, mango, coco, cashew), and palm oil. The use of these residues may help to reduce wood consumption and, on a larger scale, deforestation.
According to WHO, more than 41% of world’s population cook and heat with solid fuels such as wood, crop residues, dung, charcoal and coal. In Africa, this share exceeds 78%. Nearly 600,000 premature deaths in Africa can be attributed to household air pollution resulting from the traditional use of solid fuels, such as fuelwood and charcoal.
Participants were mainly drawn from the ACP Embassies, with hubs identified in about some thirty African countries. Ghana is one of the first nations on the continent to produce the pre-designed easy-to-make and adaptable Elsa stoves for large-scale marketing. Meanwhile countries like Zimbabwe have already adopted the system to the point of coming up with new legislation to the effect of banning the felling of trees.
For more information, please visit the website at <www.biocharplusproject>