Farmers learn to make ‘biochar’ ‘tech

TO reduce the trash generated by Cebu City daily, around 100 farmers and leaders were trained by the City Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 recently on biochar technology.

Biochar is a charred biomass made out of sustainable natural resources or agricultural wastes such as rice hull, rice straw, bagasse and corn stovers, among many others.

It is produced by heating the wastes with limited oxygen like how charcoal is made, only that the latter is used for cooking. Biochar is meant to be used in soil.

Former councilor Nida Cabrera, executive assistant of Mayor Tomas Osmeña, said they are targeting to use the technology to divert the 40 to 60 tons of waste generated at the Carbon Public Market daily.

It forms part of the 600 tons of garbage collected in the entire city every day.

Fertilizers

“We plan to return to the farmers the garbage generated by the products they bring here. They will be the one to process it. That way, the garbage from Carbon will no longer be brought to the Inayawan landfill. The technology will be a great help in reducing our garbage,” she said.

Cabrera said biochar can be used by the farmers as substitute to fertilizers.

Aside from reducing the city’s trash, Philip Camara, president of the Philippine Biochar Association, said the farmers can earn additional income if they use the technology.

During the workshop held earlier this month, Camara said that if one uses 15 sacks of raw ipa, it can generate nine sacks of rice hull biochar, which can be sold for P450.

It can also produce 10 liters of raw liquefied smoke that can be sold for P1,000.

Camara said the farmers can make their own equipment that will process the waste for only P600.

It can cook the biochar in 12 hours.

Cabrera said the City Government intends to purchase the biochar products from the farmers.

Landfill

Camara said the biochar is also a potential cover material to address the smell at the landfill.

It can also help trap and remove the methane gas.

“Biochar is a very valuable environmental product,” he said. It is also accepted by global environmentalists, he added.

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 chief William Cuñado said Cebu City is the second local government unit (LGU) in Cebu where the biochar technology was introduced.

The first training was conducted in Argao.

The technology, he said, was introduced to DENR by Sec. Gina Lopez to help LGUs, through their communities, manage their solid wastes.

“Everybody contributes to the garbage problem. In that principle, we want the people to help solve the garbage problem than just relying on the government. And if we put commercial value on the biochar, there is a big chance that this program will be sustainable,” he said.

Cuñado said they want the entire region to adopt the technology.

Incentive

Cabrera said the implementation of the program in the city will be overseen by City Agriculturist Joelito Baclayon.

She said they are planning to provide incentives to the farmers who will use the biochar technology. As to what incentive it will be, she said they are still studying it.

As this develops, Osmeña and Cuñado signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the creation of the multipartite monitoring team (MMT) for the Inayawan landfill.

Lopez was supposed to attend the MOA signing but failed to do so as she was in Bohol.

The MMT is tasked to monitor the facility’s operation as well as the quality of air and water in the area.

The agreement provides that the City will allocate P50 million for the environmental guarantee fund that will be used for the initial rehabilitation of the landfill and P2 million environmental monitoring fund that will support the activities of the MMT.

The amount has been included in the executive department’s proposed P7.2-billion annual budget next year, which is pending before the City Council.

The MMT is composed of the EMB 7 head, the DENR 7 head, the mayor, the Inayawan barangay captain, the Department of Public Services, the City Planning and Development Office and the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources, among others.
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