Biochar in Emerging and Developing Countries

The development of biochar systems around the world can be at vastly different scales and uses depending on the feedstock, expected use for the biochar, production technology, local economics, setting. Much of the developing economy country-specific biochar work that IBI is tracking are at the micro scale (biochar cookstoves) to village level systems (smaller scale). There are some larger scale units which can utilize agricultural waste and produce a good soil amendment.

Biochar can be a tool for improving soils and sequestering carbon in soil. However, this technology as any other must be implemented in a way that respects the land rights of indigenous people and supports the health of natural ecosystems. The goal of biochar technology as IBI envisions it is to improve soil fertility and sequester carbon, taking into consideration the full life cycle analysis of the technology. Properly implemented, biochar production and use should serve the interests of local people and protect biodiversity.

Although IBI does not implement or manage any on the ground biochar project, we support biochar research and projects through information exchange, assistance with proposal development and donor matching as applicable, data collection, project publicity, and basic techincal advice. If your project is not highlighted below, please contact Brian Schorr to work on a project profile for publication in our newsletter and our website.

Photo: Conservation Agriculture Maize plots after 2 months (only 4 tons/ha biochar) measured against the control in Kaoma, West Zambia: photo courtesy of: Gijs Breedveld

Biochar in Emerging and Developing Countries

Widen your Biochar knowledge, start your Biochar experience: Biochar Plus Informative and Educative kits are available to download for free at

Biochar Plus improves the capacities of developing countries to absorb and use biochar technology, knowledge of which is readily available and promotes socio-economic development of families and communities. It also stimulates the development of specific biochar-related policies and incentive schemes, and builds the technical, entrepreneurial and scientific capacities of all stakeholders involved. The development of four energy clusters is expected to reduce anthropogenic pressure on forested areas and increase the soil fertility of cropland :

– Producing and selling biochar stoves.
– Producing and selling the fuel produced with locally available feedstock (pellets).
– Collecting and distributing the biochar.
– Receiving carbon credits and selling them in the international carbon markets.

World Bank Study of Biochar Projects in Developing Countries

IBI and Cornell University worked with the World Bank to identify promising biochar systems in developing countries in order to help direct potential funding for biochar projects. In December 2010, IBI sent out a survey to our network requesting information about developing country projects. We received more than 150 responses from 43 countries which form the basis for the report which was released in July 2014.

Highlighted Projects in Developing Economies