Workshop on use of biochar held

Albert Futukpor, GNA

Tamale, Jan 24, GNA
– A stakeholders’ workshop to identify the next steps to ensure the success of
the Biochar project to improve agricultural production in the country has been

It was also to seek
inputs of stakeholders to inform further research on the use of biochar to
improve crop production to ensure food security and increased incomes for

The day’s workshop,
held in Tamale was attended by farmers, and representatives of research and
academic institutions, public sector agencies, civil society organisations and
the media.  

The Biochar project
is a research activity undertaken by the University of Reading, in the United
Kingdom (UK) in collaboration with the University for Development Studies (UDS)
and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with support from
Global Challenges Research Fund of the UK Government.

The project began in
the country last year and will end this year.

The project seeks to
demonstrate the benefits of the use of biochar and also show the problems to
encounter with its application for crop production.

Biochar is like
charcoal and it is produced by burning organic materials in the absence of
oxygen to get a carbonized material, needed to mitigate climate change, and
amends the acidic level of tropical soils to make them suitable for cultivation
of crops.

It has been proven
that the continued application of fertilizers to boost yields led to high
acidic levels in soils resulting in low yields, hence the need to use biochar
to amend the acidic level in soils or manage nutrients in the soils.

Professor Abdul
Halim Abubakari, Head of Department of Horticulture, UDS, who made a presentation
on the project at the workshop, spoke about the benefits of biochar, saying
“when you apply biochar, you do not need a lot of fertilizers” for crops to do

Professor Abubakari
said “biochar also conserves moisture in the soil and regulates soil
temperature”, which was necessary for crop production emphasising on the need
for farmers to know the acidic level in soils before applying biochar.

He said as part of
the project, policy makers and the business community were being engaged to see
how to support farmers to produce biochar in large quantities to support
agricultural production in the country.

He, therefore, urged
farmers to continue to link up with the project implementers and the Regional
Department of Agriculture as they undertook the project for their (farmers)

Dr Tom Sizmur,
Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry, Department of Geography and Environmental
Science, University of Reading, who is the Principal Investigator under the
Biochar project, said the findings of the research would be used to apply for
funds for a larger research project in the area.

Madam Hawa Musah,
Northern Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, whose speech was
read on her behalf, described the project as important, especially in the face of
climate change and the need for smart agriculture saying it would help to
improve the quality of crop production in the country.

Mr Zakaria
Abdul-Rashid, Executive Director of Urbanet called on farmers and policy makers
to support the project in view of its enormous benefits to agricultural
production in the country.

Farmers were
concerned about how the adoption of the biochar technology would affect
marketing of their crops.


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