A simple technique for making biochar from crop waste is rapidly catching on and spreading through East Africa.
Most of those who live in East Africa see wide, treeless vistas of straggly corn, degraded, dusty, red soil.
Rains are increasingly unpredictable and storms more terrible. Temperatures are rising, crop pests multiplying and old diseases spreading again.
Every year, fires rage across the countryside, the smoke reddening the sun and killing thousands of the young and elderly.
Sustainable farming with Biochar offers a simple, easily accessible solution to many of the problems and feed thousands.
What started out as a single Nun building a biochar oven for her own use, has spread out into a network that has taught 1000+ farmers how to benefit from making their own biochar.
A Bit of History
When Warm Heart opened their doors to the Children’s Home, they wanted an organic garden to help feed all of the kids.
They started looking into the best, natural fertilizer, and learned about the many benefits of biochar.
They saw the opportunity to inexpensively bring their soil back to life with biochar.
They also saw biochar as a solution for farmers to stop open field burning, which would have a direct impact on the whole community by cleaning the air.
Warm Heart set about creating a demonstration biochar oven to show how burning crop waste in a controlled oven produced a valuable product that would help the farmer’s soils, increasing crop production and income.
Research & Development
Warm Heart went to work on designing biochar ovens that were low tech, easy and cheap to build. They came up with the barrel TLUD oven and the trough oven.
Through a grant from the US Consulate Warm Heart began training workshops for local farmers to teach them how to build their own ovens to make and benefit from biochar.
DIY videos and Pdf’s were created showing how to make a biochar oven in an effort to reach a wider audience.
Stop the Smoke
Through a grant from the Canadian government Warm Heart was able to launch a biochar program in Mae Chaem working with a community of farmers to teach them how to build and use biochar ovens.
The program was a great success and we have returned there again this year expanding our reach.
This year’s Stop the Smoke program includes working with farmers to build up their degraded corn field soils. We are adding lots and lots of biochar to their fields.
They will then be able to permanently convert to more productive, sustainable and environmentally friendly crops, such as bamboo, coffee and trees.
Success in Africa
Getting back to Africa, it is important to note that the successful spread of knowledge and application of biochar was not brought about by a large NGO, or a Government program stepping in and telling the people what to do.
It was truly ignited by Sister Miriam watching our video on how to make a biochar oven. She took action, made an oven, and was so happy with the results she started teaching others how to do it. Every person she trained she asked them to share the knowledge with one other person.
As simple as the biochar oven is to make, it is still beyond the financial reach of the poorest farmers who would benefit the most from using biochar.
Warm Heart has also been working with another group in Africa, where we are developing the most basic, simplest way for farmers to make biochar. What emerged was the Trench method.
The video above shows a training session in Malawi with a group of farmers interested in learning how to make biochar in a trench. A very simple process that will supply biochar to improve their soil and increase their crops.
Warm Heart’s motto has always been “Do Something!”.
Don’t just sit back and expect someone else to make the changes that need to be made if we are to win the battle against climate change.
You may not be able to start a movement like Sister Miriam’s explosive biochar program, but you can always do something.
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Warm Heart Worldwide is a registered 501.c.3 non-profit organization in the United States, our tax exemption number is 26-2059241. All donations are tax-deductible for U.S. Taxpayers.