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Bamboo Biomass

Bamboo biomass

This workpackage deals with designing and implementing bamboo-related agroforestry systems in order to ensure food security, to meet (biomass) energy demands and to increase farmers’ incomes and resilience in the forest transitional area.

Problem statement:

It is estimated that Ghana consumes 14million m3 of wood each year for energy, with these volumes are expected to increase further in the next decade. This will potentially place additional pressure on forest and farming communities and increase deforestation and pressure on lands (competition for food and energy). However, Ghana currently has between 300,000-400,000 hectares of highly underutilized bamboo resources (OBIRI and OTENG-AMOAKO, 2007), which could form an alternative source of biomass for energy and foods. Underutilization of bamboo in Ghana is currently compounded by a lack of research and data on bamboo and its uses, especially in agro-forestry systems. Therefore, via integrating biomass production for energy into agriculture systems and surveying innovative utilization options of bamboo biomass, this research aims to address these challenges.

Objective(s):

The overall objective of the research is to design bamboo-related agroforestry systems in order to ensure food security, meet (biomass) energy demands and increase farmers’ incomes and resilience.

Research questions:

  • What is the biomass production potential of different bamboo agroforestry systems both for the generation of energy (charcoal) and food biomass (fodder and shoots)
  • Can bamboo agroforestry systems help to protect crop yields (e.g. shelter/windbreaks) and, or, increase resilience to climate change?
  • In what ways can newly designed bamboo agroforestry systems contribute to increasing productivity of local farming systems?
  • To what extent, can bamboo agroforestry systems help to reduce pressure on forest and land (food vs. energy vs. fodder) and prevent/avoid deforestation?
  • What are the economics of implementing bamboo agroforestry systems and do they positively or negatively impact on smallholder food security (e.g. increased household energy security, diversified and anti-cyclic income vs. business as usual)
  • What are the potential agricultural (e.g. planting material, fertilizers) and social constraints (farmer information/perceptions) to developing bamboo agroforestry systems and how can these be addressed?

Methodology:

  • Identification of research area
  • Establishment of pilot site for bamboo agroforestry system (including livestock)
  • Socio-economic data collection to define constraints to the bamboo-agroforestry system
  • Selective field data collection: bamboo biomass, bamboo productivity, productivity of agricultural crops, soil characteristics, productivity of livestock
  • Laboratory test: characteristics of bamboo charcoal (local partners in Ghana)
  • Life-cycle-assessment: bamboo charcoal to enable comparison with other resources for charcoal
  • Initial research will be carried out on the community level. The results and findings from this pilot research project in Ghana can then be up-scaled and out-scaled through the Africa BiomassWeb and INBAR networks.

Countries of field research:

  • Ghana

Involved partners:

  • Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
  • ZEF
  • ICRAF/CIFOR
  • University of Mines-Tarkwa

Investigators:

  • Michael Kwaku
    Senior Researcher
    International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
    Email: mkwaku@inbar.int
  • Oliver Frith
    Team Leader
    International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
  • Dr. Samuel Partey
    Senior Researcher
    Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST)
  • Daniel Akoto-Sarfo
    Junior Researcher
    INBAR/Center for Development Research (ZEF)