Project supported by Action Carbone, being implemented by GEO in semi-arid parts of India.
Objective: To promote the improved production of biochar to save forests’ resources and bring social
benefits to rural communities. To encourage the application of biochar into Indian soils to increase land’s
fertility and to sequester carbon for hundreds or thousands of years.
Partner: Geoecology Energy Organisation (GEO) is a registered Indian public charitable trust, which focuses on community capacity building and empowerment, geoecological and natural resources sustainability, climate change (Mitigation and Adaptation) and renewable energy.
GEO’s major achievements are in the area of rural energy and carbon sequestration using charcoal. So far, GEO has designed 14 different kinds of Good Stoves (biochar-making cookstoves) and their target is to facilitate one million Good Stoves to the communities within the next five years.
-Protection of Forests and Biodiversity: The improved appropriate technologies (cookstoves and kilns) save a significant quantity of fuel-wood and therefore, decrease human pressure on forests
-Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture: Biochar, a porous material, increases water retention, stimulates symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes and creates a “cozy home” for bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, minerals and nutrients in general, which lead to an improved nutrient supply for plants and reduced nutrient losses by leaching (Glaser, 2002)
-Agricultural waste management: The pyrolysis of organic material to produce biochar is an interesting alternative to the traditional disposal of waste and to the burning of crop residues in open fields
-Long-term carbon sequestration: Biochar, as a relative stable form of carbon, is still found in ancient Terra Preta soils of the Amazon Basin and thus, it could be considered as a long-term carbon sink (Lehmann, 2007)
-Awareness Rising: According to the World Health Organization, Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) kills 1.5 million people annually. Nonetheless, women and children, who are the main players in
the kitchen, might not understand the relation between smoke and health. Moreover, forest resources might be perceived unlimited and the link between their extraction and global warming is not well known by many wood users. Further, farmers still believe that adding extra chemicals is good for our Earth. The project aims at educating the participants on these problems.
-Health Improvements: Less respiratory and eye diseases.
-Capacity Building and Employment Creation.- The project aims at training current and new stoves and charcoal producers. The commercialization of the new stoves will create new jobs.
-Financial and Time Savings: Participants save money from the decreased use of chemical fertilizers and wood (when bought). Women save time when cooking with the biochar-making stove.
Description / Context :
According to the government, about 146 million hectares of land are considered degraded in India. Farmers still believe that adding extra chemicals is good for the soils, nonetheless, agricultural productivity is declining. Moreover, in rural areas in India and in most developing countries, women cook their food with biomass (mostly wood and charcoal) in highly polluting stoves, which represent a number of problems (Deforestation, lots of time spent on wood collection and on cooking, back pains and other life-threatening risks from wood collection, respiratory and eye diseases from Indoor Air Pollution, high fuel prices if the wood is bought, etc.). Furthermore, charcoal is inefficiently produced in the earth-mound kiln releasing a considerable amount of methane emissions.
Therefore, the establishment of the commercialization chain of highly-efficient biochar-making cookstoves, the diffusion of improved small-scale kilns, the pyrolysis of agricultural residues that are burnt otherwise, the soil fertility’s enhancement and the long-term carbon sequestration through biochar application in soils offer an innovative window of opportunity to enhance the living conditions of rural families, counteract deforestation, protect biodiversity, increase crop production, improve agricultural waste management and remove carbon from the atmosphere as a carbon-negative strategy to fight global warming.