Advocating for Biochar in Thailand

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The BambooPlus team together during biochar workshop in Thailand.
BambooPlus has been actively advocating for biochar in their home country, Thailand. 

In the realm of sustainable living, the journey of BambooPlus began with a simple yet profound principle: “If your plan is for one year, plant rice; if your plan is for ten years, plant trees; if your plan is for one hundred years, educate children and capture carbon longer than 100 years – make biochar!”

This wisdom became their guiding light, fueling their mission to create a sustainable legacy for generations to come.

The Biochar Landscape in Thailand

BambooPlus is amongst the first alumni of the IBI Biochar Academy, launched in 2023. Since then, they have been actively advocating for biochar in their home country, Thailand. 

Even before the trip to the US for the Academy, BambooPlus had delved into the world of pyrolysis biochar production, partnering with communities crafting bamboo handicrafts and chicken coops from bamboo. The struggles of these communities were not lost on them – the rising cost of living, diminishing returns, and the challenge to sustain their crafts.

About three years ago, the BambooPlus team began working with these communities through a university project called U2T (University to Tambol) to impart knowledge and generate income for the community. However, due to government policies that didn’t effectively address the entire process and empower the community to sustain their livelihoods independently, they decided to take matters into their own hands. 

These communities were engaged in making handicrafts and needed to purchase raw materials from bamboo markets, which generated a significant amount of leftover bamboo scraps. BambooPlus then focused on utilizing these leftover scraps to produce biochar, using standardized processes like Carbon Standards International (CSI) or European Biochar Consortium (EBC).

However, during their work, they noticed a significant gap in Thailand’s biochar landscape. There were no specific standards in place for accurate biochar production or guidelines regarding its proper utilization in agriculture. Furthermore, the general awareness of biochar among the public was limited, with most people viewing it merely as a type of charcoal primarily used for cooking.

Upon learning that IBI offered training on biochar, BambooPlus applied, hoping that attending the training would support them to standardize and implement their existing knowledge to produce biochar in Thailand.

BambooPlus and Biochar Education

After returning from the training, BambooPlus began advocating for the production of their biochar in line with IBI standards, especially for agricultural purposes, while aligning their work with CSI and EBC standards. This would result in earning CDR (Carbon Removal Credit) income, which would incentivize biochar production, lower production costs, and promote interest in biochar production. The company’s perspective shifted, emphasizing the circular nature of bamboo, a plant that not only sustains livelihoods but also breathes life into our planet, generating over 30% more oxygen than other plants.

The pivotal moment arrived when the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) sought collaboration with BambooPlus. Together, they organized workshops in the Sai Yok community, nestled in the bamboo-rich province of Kanchanaburi struggling to access the market to generate income. The workshops shared expertise on bamboo cultivation, water soaking techniques, and biochar production, sparking curiosity and empowering participants to create biochar for sustainable agriculture.

A Look Inside the Biochar Training

The partnership hosted 60 passionate workshop participants, each a torchbearer of sustainability. Among them, 30 were local residents, deeply rooted in the very soil they sought to protect. The rest, hailing from different corners of Thailand, were driven by a shared vision of a greener, cleaner future. 

On the first day of the workshop, NSTDA provided insights into the current overall market scenario in Thailand and neighboring countries. They highlighted major industries and activities that contribute to the market. Bamboo Plus then presented the origins of biochar, tracing its history from the time when it was called Terra Preta. Most of the attendees were unfamiliar with biochar; it was important to set the stage of what biochar is and how it is different from charcoal. Real-life examples of biochar production were presented to demonstrate the differences. 

BambooPlus also addressed topics like “what is a carbon credit?”, “how is biochar related to carbon credits?”, and “is carbon credit a scam?” Attendees were provided a basic overview of the carbon market, how it originated, and how it has evolved over time. Information on whether carbon credits can be misleading or fraudulent followed how biochar interacts with and sequesters carbon, contributing to reversing climate change.

 The workshop overall aimed to emphasize that producing biochar should not solely focus on generating carbon credits, as the market is unpredictable. Instead, utilizing biochar directly for tangible and sustainable outcomes is encouraged. 

The journey of BambooPlus stands as a testament to the transformative power of education, community, and biochar. As a company, they echo Emerson’s sentiment: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Meet the BambooPlus Team

Saranrat TANTHIPTHAM, Co-Founder of Wongphai Co., Ltd.

Nui is a versatile entrepreneur with a profound commitment to sustainability. She started her journey by excelling academically, graduating in Business Admin and Marketing from Bangkok University. Climbing the corporate ladder, she achieved remarkable success at Aderans. Later, she co-founded a thriving computer hardware venture, serving prestigious clients like universities and embassies. Her recent endeavors reflect her dedication to sustainability, including the founding of Wongphai Co., Ltd., focused on eco-friendly initiatives and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles for sustainable income generation. Nui’s expertise is well-recognized through certifications like IBI, C-sink Manager, and Measuring Sustainable Development.

Khomchalat THONGTING, Founder of Wongphai Co., Ltd

Kom, a visionary entrepreneur hailing from a working-class background, has dedicated 29 years to building a thriving computer and IT consulting business with a team of 45 professionals. With a passion for sustainability and a drive for global impact, he has expanded his horizons by delving into the bamboo industry, cultivating 95 acres of bamboo and intercrops while conducting valuable seminars and workshops for local communities. KOM’s recognized expertise includes IBI and carbon management skills, making him a true leader in both business and environmental stewardship.