NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

NCF: From Waste to Local Business Development and Vigorous Soil [NDF C3 D14]

The project will install multifunctional carbonisation retorts, powered by rice husk and other agricultural waste.

From Waste to Local Business Development and Vigorous Soil
Ref: NDF C3 D14

Nordic Partner: The Royal Norwegian Society for Development (Norges Vel)
Local Partner: Tanzania Traditional Energy Development  Organisation (TaTEDO) and Rural Urban Development Initiatives (RUDI)
Other Partners: Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)
Total Project Cost: EUR 730,706
NCF Financing: EUR 500,000
Agreement Signed: 22 March 2013
Project Classification: Mitigation/Adaptation
Duration: 24 Months

Project Objective

The project development objective is to contribute to improved small-holder livelihoods in three districts in Tanzania through local business development, improved soil quality, profitability in rice production and the use of renewable energy technologies.


The project will install multifunctional carbonisation retorts, powered by rice husk and other agricultural waste. The retorts produce biochar, which serves to increase local soil quality by binding nutrients and improving water retention capacity, and will be sold by local entrepreneurs. The excess biochar will be further refined into cooking briquettes in order to replace traditional carbon intensive fuels, such as firewood and charcoal. The project will also establish women’s entrepreneur groups who will utilise the excess heat from the carbonisation process to run local bakeries, cafes and catering firms. A selected group of farmers within 18 existing Village Producer Associations will receive training and capacity building on the utilisation of agricultural waste, rice husks in particular, to generate income and increase profitability in rice production. The focus will be on increasing the understanding of profitable farm management with respect to the appropriate utilisation of available resources. Activities will focus on demonstrating the positive effects of biochar on local soil quality.

The project is expected to deliver three main outputs which are believed to lead to 14 sustainable, climate-friendly rural enterprises being established and operating at the end of the project life span:

i) Capacity building program for 18 Village Producer Associations developed and implemented.
ii) Ten women’s groups established with viable business plans for running local bakeries.
iii) Ten qualified user- and climate-friendly multifunctional retorts constructed and operating in three districts.

Relevance for Climate Change

Agriculture and food security is the top priority in the Tanzania National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA). The targeted project areas are vulnerable to climate change, and they are at a risk of experiencing more unpredictable and intensive rainfall patterns, resulting in lower yields or even crop losses. The targeted beneficiaries are expected to have a better understanding of the importance of long-term profitable soil management in order to mitigate the increasing climate vulnerability. The use of biochar can improve the water retention capacity in poor soils, thus making farmers better adapted to a harsher and dryer climate. Decomposing agricultural waste produces methane emissions that can be avoided by turning the waste into biochar. When biochar is mixed with soil, the carbon is removed from the carbon cycle and will have a life cycle of several hundreds of years In addition, making biochar from rice husks replacing traditional charcoal will reduce the risk for forest degradation.

Innovation and Knowledge Transfer

The innovative production process promotes synergies between various production phases and underlays the possibilities for income generating activities in different sectors. Although biochar has been used as a soil enhancer in other parts of the world for centuries, it is still relatively unknown in Tanzania, yet it has great potential, particularly in areas of sandy-acid soils where food productivity is low and access to fertilisers is limited. Mentor farmers will be qualified to train other farmers and act as ‘biochar application ambassadors’. In addition, strong links will be made to local government and research institutions, which can increase the possibilities of further replication.


Key recent milestones achieved as of June 2017

  • Farmers and District officials sensitized
  • Mobilization of 10 Women Groups completed.
  • Meetings with District, Ward and Village officials conducted
  • Demonstration fields for application of biochar prepared, together with the analysis of soil samples and start-up of training of lead farmers
  • A total of 135 lead farmers identified and trained
  • The lead farmers currently involved in training and sensitization of how to use biochar and the expected benefits
  • Ten women groups mobilized, with each group being comprised of 30 members
  • The project scope change under consideration,


More information

The Royal Norwegian Society for Development