The present project proposal wants to promote growth and employment through research on green, cohesive Water, Energy-from-Biomass, Soil, Organics, and Crop (WEBSOC) agricultural management strategies in Ghana, as present agricultural development depends on deforestation and show little or no increase in productivity per unit of land. WEBSOC is intended to intensify agriculture to create jobs in poor rural areas. The project will investigate the use of crop residues to produce biochar and woodgas for household-use to lessen the pressure on forests for firewood and charcoal as an intelligent way of recycling organics and reducing CO2 emission. The application of biochar to agricultural fields increases carbon sequestration into the soil and thereby represents a CO2-negative approach to sustainable increase soil fertility, crop yields, and carbon storage. Further intensification will be achieved by small-scale solar drip fertigation systems allowing one to two more growing seasons per year to produce high-value horticultural crops. This is a triple-win situation where farmers get sustained higher yields (from irrigation and improved soil fertility), CC gas emissions are reduced (from increased carbon sequestration), and households get energy (from pyrolysis of straw). Finally, agricultural value chains, both on the supply and processing side, will be developed in cooperation between local SMEs and universities. The research into these options will be pursued within a framework designed to educate PhD students and young scientists.
Midterm report 2016:
Present agricultural development in Ghana is dependent on deforestation and show little or no increase in productivity per unit of cultivated land. Also activities in different sectors of the society are not well-integrated into what the EU have coined the new “green circular bioeconomy”. As the population shows a high growth rate at the moment and climate change put additional pressure on agriculture, this is challenging food security as well as the rural economy. In the WEBSOC project, funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, six Ghanaian PhD-students are now fighting back on these problems. They have designed small-scale solar driven irrigation systems and biochar cookstoves for artisanal palm-oil refining, which are envisaged to go into manufacture to create new rural value-chains and boost food production. Initial testing of combined biochar application and irrigation of crops have shown that yield can be increased more than five times. A number of smallfarmers are now applying the system in their fields and PhD-students are measuring the outcome and economic benefit.