Households and agribusinesses in remote rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa are heavily relying on wood fuels, which leads to unsustainable exploitation of forests and widespread land degradation. Electrification from the national grid remains limited and unreliable in these parts of the World, and supplying power with solar/battery mini grid technology suffers from a high costs of energy storage.
Yields and profits from key food systems like maize and tea are generally far below attainable levels because of multiple interlinked factors, the most widespread and impactful ones being low inputs of organic resources to replenish soil fertility, and dependence on increasingly erratic rainfall for supply of water.
Low-grade brown wastes with high carbon and low nitrogen content such as maize cobs, groundnut pods, coconut husks, pineapple trash and tea pruning are the largest organic resource pools in agri-food value chains, yet only small fractions of these are finding a way back into soils of agricultural fields. Most of these biomass residues are burned to ease remediation.
The very high and ever-increasing levels of deforestation for wood fuel and use of open fires (https://go.nasa.gov/3t9YRs2) for clearing crop residues from fields make Sub-Saharan Africa a large source of carbon dioxide (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11097-w).
Gasification energy systems make it possible to augment the value of low-grade brown wastes and other renewable biomass caches by producing affordable electricity and heat for domestic and industrial purposes. Biochar, a by-product from gasifiers, offers huge opportunities for green manufacturing, soil fertility management and carbon sequestration in agricultural value chains of tropical Africa (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378429018318938). Enhanced weathering is a geoengineered technology that involves artificially speeding up the dissolution of primary silicate rocks. There are strong complementarities between farming with rocks and biomass gasification systems: the latter can supply cheap electricity and heat to make enhanced weathering products, while the former can remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from exhaust gases
The question, then, is how do we use science-industry collaboration to lift up these technologies in financially attractive and ecologically sound ways for increasing access to climate-smart energy and food?
Co-REGEN develops circular business ecosystems for gasification energy, biochar farming and enhanced weathering in subsistence farming communities and commercial agribusiness. Focus is on optimization of supply logistics, power generation, agronomic advisory and financial management. This short video gives you an overview of the innovation space that Co-REGEN is occupying (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1klkhGQydfNuyGr4a7Qncss2MWW0HQ0Ys/view?usp=sharing) .