Creating Local Biochar Networks for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

Creating Local Biochar Networks for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We would like to significantly contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural and lifestyle activities through the conversion of agricultural waste into biochar, while at the same time providing livelihood to small farmers by their participation in biochar production and incorporation into farmlands. Biochar in this way can make soil more fertile, increase yields, and reduce greenhouse gas significantly, immediately and continuously for the long term. To sustain the project we are offering carbon offset credits to local and later to international voluntary markets. We are also providing opportunities for concerned individuals and corporations to directly contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation and increase awareness about GHG and climate change.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

More than two-thirds of the Philippine population live in the rural areas and 80% of them are below the poverty index per official statistics. For this project we are dealing with rural small farmer (1 hectare or less of farmland) organizations like the Irrigators’ organizations which are government-led, or non-government farmers’ cooperatives. This therefore means they have some access to some resources, minimal as they may be, such as water for rice fields allowing them 2 croppings annually or access to the use of post-harvest facilities. Their involvement in biochar production and soil incorporation would allow them to earn while waiting for the planting or harvest season. The principals of the Philippine Biochar Association have worked with farmers and rural NGOs for more than 20 years. Their experiences in the fields of community organization, microfinance, community enterprise development, and mainstream banking and business, has given them the capability to do this project.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The social issues addressed here are climate change and global warming; increasing world hunger and famine which is felt so deeply in the rural areas; widespread poverty and in underdeveloped countries like the Philippines, farmers are one of the most marginalized sectors; and soil depletion from the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides resulting in lower yields and contributing to increased poverty. This project addresses at least part of each social issue. 4 billion tons of biochar used in farm soils can reverse 200 years of CO2 lifestyle emission, and also mitigates other more potent greenhouse gas like nitrous oxide and methane up to 100 percent. Used in agriculture, biochar can increase soil fertility and yields by a significant extent, sometimes by 400 percent, as concluded from studies of Terra Preta in the Amazons. What is keeping biochar from being used and produced extensively? As stated by Al Gore, there has not been a way in which biochar can be produced and distributed in the scales needed, and as carbon has still no price in the world market there is nothing to stimulate such a move. Our project provides a solution. For the first time we are able to produce and use biochar in potentially large quantities through a partnership with local rural town networks, and by providing a platform in which the carbon offset market can buy the credits issued through PBiA, a livelihood is created for the farmers. At the same time soil fertility and yields are improved and provide the setting for increased food production and poverty alleviation assistance.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A. Local Town Network Development consisting of the Local Government, a Farmer’s Organization, and a locally-based non-government organization for production, validation, and certification of measured biochar integration in agricultural soil. Synchronized records are kept by all three members and serialized master certificates are issued by the network attesting to the validation of 1.1 tons of biochar per certificate with farm and farmer indicated. B. Funding Biochar Network Activities through Carbon Offset Credits in the Voluntary Market. Sub-certificates and stickers are provided with credits bought, each sub-certificate providing for 1 ton of CO2 offset for Php1,500 (US$35). 60% is for the local network where the farmer organizations receive 70-80% of the fund. Biochar carbon offsets would be more marketable given that the CO2 mitigation is immediate and sustained for a thousand years. C. Audits by the Philippine Biochar Association to validate Biochar Network Activities to make sure validation activities are carried out as agreed upon, to provide further assurance that carbon offset activities are actualized. Through these activites the project provides an access for marginalized rural farmers to increase fertility of their farm soils, support greenhouse gas mitigation, and get funded by the lifestyles that contribute to global warming.
About You
Philippine Biochar Association
About You
First Name

Philip de Guzman

Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Philippine Biochar Association

Organization Country

, XX

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Philip Camara has had long involvement with environmental issues in the Philippines such as biodiversity issues and conservation of Philippine forests, environmental degradation, and lately climate change issues. He stumbled upon biochar and its benefits in the book of Chris Goodall through a friend. He did additional research and saw the connection between biochar and small farmers and how a partnership can lead to poverty alleviation, forest conservation, mitigating the effects of climate change, and consumer advocacy on greenhouse gas. He then was inspired to design a biochar program that directly involves the small farmers, the local government units and non-government organizations and introduced the first verifiable and certifiable carbon offset program in the Philippines.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

.The project is relatively new, we just started in April 2011. We have established 2 working local networks, each producing 1 ton/day minimum of biochar to as high as 3.3 tons/day. 1 ton of biochar immediately takes out 3.67 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. 2 more networks are to be formed within one month. Success of the project can be measured in 2 ways: one is in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation and the other in increased farmer income. The first one is measured by the amount of biochar produced and used in farming activities and how much carbon offset is sold to the voluntary market, using the accepted ratios of 1:3.67 tons. The other one is measured by how much income is derived by partner farmers from biochar production and the increase in farm yield and income from their farming activities with the incorporation of biochar into their farmlands,

How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

The Philippines has 1497 municipalities or towns. If we are able to organize even 10 percent of that or 150 municipalities to each produce and use a minimum of 220 tons of biochar in agriculture in a systematic quantifiable and verifiable manner per year, we would have reduced 121,000 tons of C02 from the atmosphere in one year not to mention the amount of nitrous oxide and methane that is also reduced in the process. And to do this we need to sell the commensurate number of carbon offset certificates to fund the farmers’ program. We will get accredited for gold standard if possible or at least third party accreditation and put the program on the international market.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The project will be hindered if not enough carbon offset certificates are sold to support the Rural Networks’ biochar activities. Sales of carbon offset certificates will be dependent on marketing strategies and efforts and on the awareness of the consumer or general public to the immediate and long term effects of climate change on their lives and on future generations. There may also be problems with some of the networks not following the accepted validation criteria. PBiA has to impose regular audits by trained staff to ensure that the networks follow the criteria religiously. Sanctions can also be imposed on networks who are delinguent in carrying out their role in the project.

Tell us about your partnerships

We are developing partnerships with local governments for the production side of the biochar program, with NGOs to coordinate the Biochar Local Networks and validation of the biochar soil integration, with farmers’ cooperatives, with the National Government agencies like the Department of Agricultures, Local Government, Agrarian Reform, Poverty Alleviation, Food Security. We will also be fostering relationships with the International Biochar Association and the Japan Biochar Association. We are also exploring relationships with development assistance resources.

Explain your selections

As we have currently two almost three on-going Local Biochar Networks producing and validating biochar activities, we have been selling certificates to individuals, family, friends, corporations, to help fund these local area activities. We have also funded it personally and are currently looking for at least start up funding to staff the project properly in this start up year. On the production side, the farmers’ organizations are being funded on the front end by the LGUs and one of them by their own organization as it has backing from the government, to produce and use the biochar, until they have received payments from credits sold.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We plan to get 3rd party accreditation. We will do advocacy and marketing activities on the consumer side with corporations like vehicle companies and travel-related companies, and build more networks to reach our 150 network goal. In the first year we hope to get between 5-10 networks going and to sell 1000 master certificates per month to fund these activities. We will also partner with the Biochar Associations in other countries beginning with the Japan Biochar Association, and will link with the International Biochar Association.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Restricted access to new markets


Lack of skills/training


Lack of visibility and investment

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Our innovation addresses restricted access to new markets and lack of visibility and investment by linking the carbon credit market to small scale rural farmers directly, and allowing these farmers direct access to this funding source that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Lack of skills/training as it teaches farmers a new form of charcoal making, and that by using charcoal in farmland they can increase fertility and have better yields.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.



Leveraged technology


Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

Grow geographic reach by getting 3rd party accreditation and through the internet join the carbon offset market and go global. Leverage technology by forming local biochar networks throughout the country that will use the most appropriate biochar producing technologies. Adding complementary services by going into partnerships that will use biochar for other products other than for agriculture like water purifying, filters for cigarettes, gas masks, and so forth.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Local governments are part of the Local Biochar network and also receive a portion of the funds from carbon offset trading. Their function is to provide credibility to the biochar validation in the field. NGOs are also members of the local networks and also get a portion of the carbon offset fund for coordinating the validation at the local level. For profit companies and universities for providing a venue for the spread of the climate change advocacy and therefore a market for the carbon offset credits. Technology providers for helping find new more environmental ways of producing biochar.