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Assessing the potential socio-economic opportunities and challenges of Bio-char adoption on small-holder farming systems

Research project in Development Geography

Project's title: Assessing the potential socio-economic opportunities and challenges of Bio-char adoption on small-holder farming systems

Project's duration: 2013-2019

Contact person: Yahia Mahmoud

Researchers on the project:

  • Yahia Mahmoud
  • Cecilia Sundberg (SLU)
  • Kristina Roing de Nowina (IITA)

Overview

Bio-char has recently received attention in scientific and popular media for its potential to sequester C, enhance soil fertility and provide options for food preparation through bio-char. Despite the positive agro-ecological potential, little is known about the socio-economic impacts of bio-char use and adaptability. Since sustainable agricultural intensification approaches with enhanced resilience to climate change for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are called for, considering that SSA has low food availability per capita, this study explores biochar as a potential smallholder technology in Kenya. The overall objective is to generate evidence-based knowledge on the role bio-char can play in small-holder farming systems. Specific objectives are: 

  1. To characterise and quantify available organic resources (OR) for bio-char production at farm level. 
  2. To assess bio-char stoves for energy use efficiency, and quantity and quality of bio-char output, depending on OR used, compared to current uses of OR. 
  3. To evaluate how different quality bio-char affects crop productivity and soil biological, chemical and physical processes. 
  4. To assess and evaluate socio-economic impact of bio-char at farm level and propose optimized ways to use OR for better impacts on energy, farm-level output and soil health.

The project is a multidisciplinary one involving several researchers (engineers, agronomist and geographers) from SLU at Uppsala, the Department of Human Geography in Lund and ITTA in Kenya. The project is funded by SIDA.