Food production in rain-fed agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly challenging, due to a growing population, unsustainable methods, deteriorating soil quality and a changing climate.
Innovative methods, including conservation agriculture and use of biochar (pyrolyzed crop residues for carbon storage and soil fertility improvement), have been proposed, but adoption is lagging behind. This is partly due to the lack of knowledge on returns of investment at the household level and barriers for adoption of sustainable intensification technologies.
A new collaborative project coordinated by NMBU seeks to remedy this for smallholder farms in Uganda.
“We are going to aid large-scale implementation of climate-smart agriculture by using biochar,” project leader and NMBU-professor Jan Mulder says.
Simple, cheap and sustainable
In the project, the researchers will investigate innovative simple, cheap and sustainable biochar technology, based on pigeon pea biomass, and test new biochar formulations.
“These novel low-tech concepts have been applied successfully in Southern Africa, improving yields through increased climate resilience, while restoring the natural soil carbon sink function,” Mulder comments.
“Our project will provide a basis for extension to the widely different soils and climate conditions in Uganda,” he says.
Their primary objective is to increase food security, on-farm profitability and entrepreneurship in communities of smallholder farms in Uganda.
“This will improve livelihoods, through training and implementation of novel climate smart practices in agriculture, reduce soil degradation and vulnerability to climate change, and at the same time contribute to climate change mitigation,” he concludes.