SuperChar biochar kilns produced by Carbon Gold, are allowing cacao growers to farm sustainably by slowing environmentally damaging ‘slash and burn’ practices, cutting carbon emissions and adding value to waste stream, the company says.
A five-year biochar project with the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) encouraged the sustainable production and use of biochar by farmers in Belize, funded by Mondel?z International and the GEF Small Grants Program implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Biochar is produced by TCGA farmers in SuperChar 100 pyrolysis kilns, using waste cacao and shade tree prunings as feedstock. In the Toledo district of Belize, cacao trees are prone to the fungal disease monilia, made worse by lack of airflow through the orchards. Pruning the orchards generates a greater airflow but creates a waste-stream of biomass that is generally burnt or left to rot – resulting in atmospheric CO2 emissions.
Biochar has proven to be an effective soil amendment and one that is imperative to the successful propagation of cacao seedlings in a nursery environment, SuperChar said. The water retention capacity of biochar also meant that water usage can be cut by 50 percent.
TCGA farmers will now be propagating all of their cacao plants in nurseries, expanding to nine across the cooperative – each raising 5000 seedlings at a time.