Biochar

Lead Organization:

Cornell University

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa

Countries:

Ethiopia

Duration:

11/2011—5/2013

Overview:

Ethiopia, a country of 85 million people, is located in sub-Saharan Africa, which is one of the global hot spots of malnutrition and an area likely to be most susceptible to the effects of climate change. Agriculture, the main source of livelihood for an overwhelming majority of Ethiopians, employs more than 85% of the labor force, accounts for 45% of gross domestic product, and makes up 85% of export revenues. However, most Ethiopian farms are subsistence-level with few inputs and little diversity, producing crops with low nutritional value.Land degradation and soil fertility decline have posed tremendous challenges to increasing agricultural productivity and economic growth in Ethiopia. Soil fertility depletion is a fundamental biophysical cause of stagnant per capita food production in the region. Continued land degradation and the accompanying soil fertility and crop productivity decline are creating chronic food shortages and limiting Ethiopia’s opportunities for food security, development, and self-reliance.

Grant Aims:

Improve soil health and renew Ethiopia’s depleted soilsEstablish sustainable soil biochar systems for managing soil fertility, crop production, and agricultural crop diversification to improve the household diets in EthiopiaDetermine whether biochars can be created from locally available biomass that do not compete with other uses and can address critical soil and crop productivity constraintsRecycle agricultural and agro-industrial biomass or use it in a more environmentally and socially sustainable manner

Outputs and Outcomes:

Basic knowledge of whether biochars can be generated from locally available biomass that do not compete with other uses and can address critical soil and crop productivity constraintsDetermination of the type of biochar produced and its properties characterized