Bamboo charcoal technology introduced in Ghana
The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), is promoting bamboo charcoal technologies in Ghana, which have the potential to jump-start the country’s bio-energy sector and generate and sustain the charcoal business.
It will also slow down deforestation and fight climate change.
Mr Michael Kwaku, Country Director of INBAR Ghana, said in a statement issued in Accra on Wednesday and copied to Ghana News Agency that China-Africa collaboration focuses on bamboo to provide cleaner, safer, green energy source.
It will also create and sustain jobs in the wood-fuel sector.
The statement said the Forestry Research Institute is partnering Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Africa and communities in the Western Region and INBAR to implement the project.
The European Union and China are working to substitute bamboo charcoal and firewood for forest wood on, which 65 per cent of the rural population depends for its fuel needs.
Initial successes with bamboo charcoal briquette in Ghana and Ethiopia, which have put bamboo biomass at the centre of renewable energy policies, are spurring interest in countries across the continent.
This is prompting calls for greater investment in bamboo-based charcoal production as a green biofuel that can fight deforestation and mitigate climate change.
“Bamboo, the perfect biomass grass, grows naturally across Africa and presents a viable, cleaner and sustainable alternative to wood fuel.
“Without such an alternative, wood charcoal will remain the primary household energy source for decades to come—with disastrous consequences,” the statement said.
It said In Ghana, the reason behind the cutting down of trees is usually for charcoal, pasture for livestock, farms, urban or industrial purposes.
The number of trees illegally cut down yearly is way beyond the number of culprits arrested, which indicates that most of them culprits go scot free. This in the long run, causes depletion of land and harms green plants and animals.
The statement said burning wood has a significant impact on the climate.
Scientists predict that the burning of wood fuel by African households, will release the equivalent of 6.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere by 2050.
Ten tonnes of raw wood produces one tonne of wood charcoal, making wood fuel collection an important driver of deforestation in Ghana.
About 15 billion people have few alternative fuel sources.
The INBAR project is the first to transfer bamboo charcoal and briquette technologies from China to Ghana to produce sustainable ‘green biofuels’ using locally available bamboo resources.
“Ensuring food security in a changing climate is one of the major challenges of our era. It is well known that the destruction of Ghana’s forests has negative repercussions on livelihoods and sustainable agriculture as it feeds into a cycle of climate change, drought and poverty,” Ms Gloria Asare Adu, Executive Director Global Bamboo Product Limited.
“Feeding people in decades to come will require ingenuity and innovation to produce more food on less land in more sustainable ways,” the statement said.
Scientists believe that deforestation across the northern regions within the forest transitional zones, has contributed to changes in the weather forecast.
Years of tree-clearing for charcoal in some part of the north, particularly in the Upper East and Upper East Regions, have eliminated fragile forests that stood as the last line of defence against the conversion of sparsely forested dry lands and pastures into useless desert, according to researchers from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
The International Energy Agency predicts that if business continues as usual, by 2030 biomass energy in sub-Saharan Africa including Ghana will still account for about three-quarters of total residential energy, underscoring the urgency of coming up with a sustainable alternative biomass to replace wood.
Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 2.75 million hectares of bamboo forest, equivalent to roughly four per cent of the continent’s total forest cover.
“Rural communities need access to sustainable approaches that will keep trees in the ground and the environment safe,” Professor Karanja M. Njoroge, Executive Director, Green Belt Movement has said.
He said: “Bamboo grows naturally across Africa’s diverse landscapes, but unlike trees, it regrows after harvest and lends itself very well for energy plantations on degraded lands. We should put it to good use to provide clean energy for Ghana.”
China is a global leader in the production and use of bamboo charcoal. The sector is worth an estimated $1 billion a year and employs more than 60,000 people in more than 1,000 businesses.
Chinese partners, including the Nanjing Forestry University and WENZHAO Bamboo Charcoal Co., are helping to adapt equipment like brick kilns, grinders and briquette machines, and hand tools, for bamboo charcoal and briquette production using local materials.
Building on this momentum, the INBAR initiative is now transferring China’s advanced bamboo charcoal technologies to sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition to charcoal, bamboo offers many new opportunities for income generation. It can be processed into a vast range of wood products, from floorboards to furniture and from charcoal to edible shoots.
The world bamboo export was estimated at $1.6 billion in 2009, a decline of about $ 659 million from $ 2.2 billion in 2008.
INBAR is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to reducing poverty, conserving the environment and creating fairer trade using bamboo and rattan.
INBAR was established in 1997 and represents a growing number of member countries all over the world. The headquarters is in China with regional offices in Ghana, Ethiopia, India and Ecuador.
The organisation connects a global network of governmental, non-governmental, corporate and community partners in more than 50 countries.