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29.10.2010 Business & Finance

New technology to reduce Ghana’s fertilizer imports

By Kofi Adu Domfeh
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Ghana's Soil Research Institute (SRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is developing a carbon rich product to improve agriculture production and the environment.

The technology known as Biochar is a fine grained charcoal, high in organic carbon and largely resistant to decomposition.

Biochar is obtained from organic wastes such as crop residues, rather than cut timber. The 'Green Charcoal' is believed to be more eco-friendly than traditional charcoal, serving as a powerful simple tool to fight global warming.

The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, through the CSIR, is currently inviting bids to build incinerators for biochar in 10 districts of Ghana.

Research scientist on the project, Dr. Edward Yeboah, tells Luv Fm the product greatly enhances crop yields when applied to soil and reduces the need for traditional chemical fertilizers.

He says the charcoal-making machine has been used in Senegal since 2007 by a Paris-based NGO, Pro-Natura. “They are using it for vegetable production and they're able to export huge amounts of vegetables to Europe as a result of this technology and farmers are getting huge income���, he said.

Dr. Yeboah noted “in terms of the general economy of Ghana, it's going to reduce our fertilizer importation greatly so we're going to save huge foreign exchange on fertilizer importation.”

He said farmers are being sensitized on the biochar option, stating that the production of the charred materials and the collection of feedstock will create employment for the youth.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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