Development of Biochar-Based Closed Loop Food System
Provision of nutritive food to the people with zero impact on the environmental and socio-economic systems
What is Biochar ? Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that's made by burning organic waste materials from agricultural, forestry, domestic and other sources in a controlled process called pyrolysis. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon and other minerals, and can endure in soil for thousands of years. It can be used as a soil amendment for both carbon sequestration and soil health benefits. Biochar-Based Regenerative Food System can help solve a variety of global challenges simultaneously.
Applications of biochar in agriculture: Enhancement of soil and compost properties. Soil degradation is a major concern in agriculture globally. To address this challenge, researchers suggested applying biochar to degraded soils in order to enhance its biological, chemical and physical qualities that leads to increased crop productivity (tons per hectare)
A sample of biochar showing its typical properties of black color, highly porous, lightweight, fine-grained and large surface area. Approximately 70 percent of its composition is carbon. The remaining percentage consists of nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen among other elements. Biochar’s chemical composition varies depending on the feed-stocks used to make it and methods used to heat it.
Biochar made from different types of solid waste materials...Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that’s made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry wastes (also called biomass) in a controlled process called pyrolysis. Although it looks a lot like common charcoal, biochar is produced using a specific process to reduce contamination and safely store carbon. During pyrolysis organic materials, such as wood chips, leaf litter or dead plants, are burned in a container,
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Envirosafe Organo-Allied (Nigeria) Company
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
(1.) Faculty of Agriculture, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria (University/Government)
(2.) National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Services, Zaria, Nigeria (Research Institution)
(3.) Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan, Nigeria (Research Institution)
(4.) Borno Coalition for Development, Maiduguri, Nigreria (Small NGO)
(5.) Wuyo Workers Youth Association, Wuyo, Borno State, Nigeria (Youth Organization)
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
The place is selected in order to help in solve the numerous challenges associated with the current degenerative food system. This is to be achieved through closing up the unsustainable linear food system into a sustainable closed loop one. It is important to me because it is the place where my future generation yet unborn will live far beyond the targeted year of 2050. Hence, it is only a duty that efforts be made at present in order to make the future not only live-able but comfortable as well to the generations yet unborn. I am connected to the place because I reside and work in the place and will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Map of Borno State showing the 27 Local Government Areas painted in different colours
Geo-Political Map of Nigeria showing 36 states, with Borno State in extreme north east painted in brown colour
"Lasharam" in Kanuri - the dominant language of Borno means eating from the same plate... It is a very common tradition among the majority of people of Borno State for men to gather and eat food together from the same plate.
Marghi special is name of a highly nutritious and delicious food made from fresh catfish and vegetable leaves... Marghi special is highly cherished among the people of Borno State
Palace of the Shehu of Borno... The Traditional Chief of Maiduguri and chairman of the council of Emirs (Chiefs) of Borno State.
Traditional/cultural dancers during a ceremony in Maiduguri, Borno State
Borno, a frontier state located extreme northeastern Nigeria covers an area of 72,609 square kilometers. The state shares a common border with three African countries; Niger Republic to the north, Chad, to the northeast and Cameroon to the east.
The feel of the Place: The people of Borno are characteristically gregarious, sociable and friendly best described as sanguine. Kanuri are the dominant ethnic group in Borno State. Other important ethnic groups include Shuwa Arabs, Fulani, Babur/Bura and Marghi. However, the most widely spoken dialect among and between all the tribes is Hausa. Maiduguri is the state capital, and by far its largest city. Other important towns are; Gwoza, Chibok, Damboa, Biu and Bama. Population of Borno State is estimated at 5,458,156. Majority of the people are farmers, herdsmen, traders and fishermen.
The food People eat (tastes, flavors, and smells): The food consumed by the people of Borno State is mainly cereal-based eaten with with vegetable soup cooked with fish, meat, beans or groundnuts. The ceral food comes in form of grits/crumps call "biski" and an alternative soft solid "tuwo" in the local dialect, The food, especially the soup taste good with strong smell of spices, fish and fermented locust bean seed call "daddawa" in the local dialect. Liquid and thick cereal pap/gruel called "kunu" is also a delicacy consumed by the people of the State.
Climate and Topography: Three major agro-ecological zones can be distinguished in the State, namely: Guinea savanna, Sudan Savanna and Sahel Savanna. The State is one of the warmest region in Nigeria with an average daily high temperature of 34 degrees centigrade. With a yearly average of 34 degrees the climate is very warm, but has only a very few tropical and humid months. It is yearlong warm or hot. Humidity is unpleasantly high from June to September, these are the months in the state. Topography: Most of the state is drained by seasonal rivers flowing toward Lake Chad. Borno is primarily an agrarian society. Prominent physical features include the Bornu Plains, the volcanic Biu Plateau, and the firki (“black cotton”) swamps south and southwest of Lake Chad. Most of the state is drained by seasonal rivers flowing toward Lake Chad. The far south, however, is drained by the Gongola River, a tributary of the Benue.
The natural vegetation in Borno state includes the acacia (a source of gum arabic), baobab, locust bean, shea butter, date palm, and kapok trees; however, there is a region of Sahel savanna, mostly thorn scrub and with sandy soils, in the north. Prominent physical features include the Bornu Plains, the volcanic Biu Plateau, and the firki (“black cotton”) swamps south and southwest of Lake Chad.
Social dynamics: The Durbar is a key reflection of Borno State’s culture and history. It features a display of horsemanship mainly organised to mark important occasions, with royal horsemen, dances, –horses and trumpeters led by the Shehu, emirs, district heads and other traditional title holders.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Presently (2020), Borno State, Nigeria is being faced by numerous challenges that makes the food system unsustainable. In the absence of any meaningful intervention, these challenges will continue to be aggravated to foreseeable future - 2050, and well beyond. These challenges are elucidated as follows:
Environment: Current environmental challenges face by Food System in Borno State are many, a few are; desertification, arable land degradation, erratic and unreliable rainfall regimes, receding surface and underground water levels (typically for Lake Chad) excessive overgrazing, extensive tree felling for fuel wood and others. These challenges will likely continue to worsen up to 2050 as population pressure increases and degradation of natural resources is aggravated.
Diets: The World Food Program (WFP) reported that 64 percent of the population of Borno State are food and nutrition insecure. Diets consume by majority of the populace is largely carbohydrate (cereals) and lack protein, minerals and vitamins. Due to massive increase in population, these challenges will only be increasing through 2050 and beyond.
Economics:The economy of Borno State is largely agrarian, with livestock husbandry, crop production and fishing on the Lake Chad dominating the economic activities. Agriculture is mainly subsistence, with over 70 percent of the population depending on it directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, whatever progress is made regarding the Food System in Borno State, it is nullified by the sheer increase in population.
Technology: Borno State lack the simplest of technology necessary to make the food system regenerative. Most at times, the lack of technology, as at the time it is required, can be very costly to, for instance, majority of the farms lack basic facilities in form of modern post-harvest storage such as large silos, cold and dry rooms etc that reduce food wastage that undermines the Food System. All these challenges make the Food System unsustainable and degenerative.
Policy: There is no definitive policy in Nigeria, Borno State inclusive that will help in strengthening popular access to nutritious, affordable and acceptable food. Lack of policy has led to weakening the Food System for access to healthy food in adequate quantities and good quality for people of Borno State. In a situation where there exist a form of feeble policy, it's implementation is faced with serious problems. For instance, Nigeria is a signatory and has ratify the international policy of Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. However, this policy and similar ones are present only on paper and not being implemented. Substances that deplete the ozone layer, example Hydro-fluoro-carbons (HFCs) still abound in markets in some parts of the country. These challenges are likely to go beyond 2050 in the absence of any intervention.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
In order to address the challenges described in previous question, a systemic change is necessary. Instead of focusing solely on the status-quo of increase in productivity and reducing the cost of production, there is the need for paradigm shift to reducing the use of synthetic raw materials through more efficient use within ecological cycles - to close the food system loop. In order to achieve this our vision is focused on integration of different approaches based on the biochar culture. Important among these approaches are as follows:
(1.) Development of biochar-based fertilizer-pesticides production industry. We envision the development of a large scale industry for production of fertilizer-pesticides from biochar produced from organic waste materials. The produced biochar fertilizer-pesticides will systematical replaced the synthetic fertilizer and pesticides being used by crop growers at present. This will decarbonize the transportation of agro-chemicals from the production plants to buyers and users as well as the waste material collection.
(2.) Establishment of Farmer Field School for capacity building of farmers We envisage on establish of many Farmer Field School (FFS) to educate our farmers on how to produce biochar-based fertilizer-pesticide themselves for use on their farms.
(3.) Policy Development on Sustainable Food System: Engaging all stakeholders in the food system in Borno State such as farmers, traders, transporters, extension specialist, universities, research institutes, media houses, government institutions, non-governmental organizations (both local and international) legislature, private sector organizations and others to strongly lobby and advocate for policy development and implementation to entrench a sustainable regenerative food system in Borno State.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Thirty years from now (i.e. by 2050), we foresee a completely changed Borno State in terms of environmental sustainability, adequate food and nutrition security, healthy community, agriculturally and economically developed society. This is absolutely achievable through the biochar regenerative food system (widespread and intensive use of biochar on farm) that will lead to increased productivity (yield per hectare) of both food and cash crops. This will lead to production of surplus crops to adequate and nutritiously feed the 2050 population and profitably sell the surplus to create wealth among the people….
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Our Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for our place and people for 2050 is that the larger 2050 population adequately meets its abundant food nutrition and poverty eradication needs. We envisioned an Utopia Sustainable Food System (USFS) that provides among others; good environment-friendly, climate smart agricultural practices, well conserved fertile soil/water and efficient recyclable wastes management that will will increase the agricultural output manifold without associated increases in the amount of land or water used and also zero impact on the environment and socio-economic system.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?