Namibian farmers turn to locally produced biochar as fertilizer
A group of Namibian farmers are changing the face of farming in the normally infertile desert soils that characterize this southern African country through the use of biochar as a form of natural fertilizer.
Marieke Voights, one of the farmers who now runs a thriving market gardening project on her farm about 40 km from the capital Windhoek in the south of the country, is harvesting great fruits from this innovative farming technique.
Voights told Xinhua that the benefits of using biochar as a natural fertilizer have made her a popular producer of organic foods, including carrots, vegetables, beets and onions, among a multitude of products. horticultural and agricultural.
More interesting is the fact that the biochar made from the invasive bush also creates a value chain in different farms where it is used as fertilizer and animal feed while the residue is sold as charcoal among the communities.
“We use biochar as a fertilizer for vegetable production as well as for animal feed. This allowed us to create a value chain from biochar, ”she said.
Voights has set up a real small-scale biochar production plant on his farm which is home to more than 80 families, including a market gardening project, a school, a dairy farm as well as a pigsty project with the help of Expert biochemists from Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Voights is now a key supplier to organic vegetable growers and provides a fresh produce hub in Namibia, while many other farmers across the country are using biochar as a cheap and efficient fertilizer.
NUST is also using its farm to train students studying biochemistry to do practical work for their studies and is also researching the possibility of using biochar as a fertilizer on a large scale in Namibia in the future.
“So far we have had two students who have completed their six month internship program on this farm. When they are here to train, they will also stay and work on this farm. They will not leave until they have completed their work, ”said Ibbo Zimmermman, speaker from NUST who works in the research department of the biochar project.
The Namibian biochar project is funded through a partnership between the Namibian government and the German government.
“We are looking for ways to get biochar production from harvested invading bushes. The project has the potential for significant spinoffs for the Namibian agricultural sector as well as job creation for many Namibians at the university, ”said Progress Kashandula, CEO of De-Bushing Advisory Services in Namibia, which funds research on the project.