How do we set up our water hyacinths char productions? We don’t! The production process has three simple steps which are simple to coordinate. We guide interested community members to starting their own productions.
Our producer Peter Bassey from Lagos, Nigeria, started his production with a seed capital of just 50$. He used this money to build a C2C-Kiln to make biochar. Five months later he has already produced six tons of C2C-Biochar and hired three members from his community.
1. Harvesting Water Hyacinths
Water hyacinths are floating aquatic plants. When they get a chance to die off, the plants sink to the ground where they decompose. This emits a lot of methane! Before this can happen, the plants are harvested and the stems and roots are seperated.
2. Drying Water Hyacinths
We are only using the stems to make our C2C-Biochar. The roots take a long time to dry and ash easily. Therefore, they are better for making compost. It takes around a week for the stems to fully dry. In this time they are repeatedly turned to speed up the drying.
3. Making our C2C-Biochar
All of our producers use the C2C-Kiln to produce our C2C-Biochar. The biochar is made in high temperatures with limited oxygen. A person who is operating two kilns can make 65kg of biochar per day. Enough to finance the whole operation.
4. Applying it to the Soil
Before applying the C2C-Biochar to the soil, it has to be charged with nutrients. It is used as a bedding for poultry farms. After two weeks it is sold to local farmers. These farmers apply it to their fields, greenhouses and nurseries.
Yes, no machines! Machines seem like an obvious improvment to produce more, faster… but that isn’t our goal, and only partially true.
Scale-Up vs. Scale-Out
Our approach is to create independent and decentralized productions. This means that the production is set up and run by community members. They are running the biochar productions as their own business. The success is dependent on their skill and determination. In the end it is up to them to purchase the equipment that works for them. This combines local knowledge with C2C-Innovation.
Why Machines are a bad Investment…
Not every production site will turn out to be successful. Local politics, corruption or conflict in the community, there are many challenges that our partners and us have to face. Once we make a large investment and purchase machines, we are bound to one location… When we were at Lake Tana, we started to count how many abandoned harvesters we could find. There were at least seven of them, because organizations and institutions before us went the machine route.
Staying mobile makes us independent. The producers are flexible and can move anytime to new sites, with more water hyacinths, less conflict and better access.
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