The Keynote Speaker, Professor Durodoluwa Oyedele delivering his Keynote Address at the Conference

The Keynote Speaker, Professor Durodoluwa Oyedele delivering his Keynote Address at the Conference

A Professor of Soil Physics from the Department of Soil Science and Land Resources Management, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Professor Durodoluwa Oyedele has reiterated the called for the adoption of Biochar Technology for Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Protection.

The University Don made the call while delivering his Keynote Address at the Biochar Intiative of Nigeria (BIN) 4th Annual Conference, held in the University.

According to him, the Soils in Nigeria like others soils in the Tropics, are highly weathered, have low SOC content, are poor in high activity clay and degrade rapidly under intense agricultural use, hence the need to adopt Biochar technology in alleviating the shortcomings.

Professor Oyedele described Biochar as a lightweight, highly porous material produced by pyrolysis of biomass which acts as a soil-conditioning agent, reducing soil bulk density and improving aeration and water-holding capacity of soils among others benefits.

He added that Biochar has the double barrelled potential of soil improvement at the same time mitigate climate change.

Corroborating the Keynote Speaker, the President, Biochar Initiative of Nigeria, Dr John Fagbenro in his Address disclosed that Biochar technology has the potential to deliver a variety of sustainable outcomes.

According to him, the multi-beneficial functions of Biochar include sustainable soil productivity, elimination of centuries-old fallow system, soil remediation, climate change mitigation, livestock farming, water purification, fisheries and aquaculture management, energy generation, electronics, metallurgy, paints and coloring, medicines and textiles.

Group Photograph of top officials of the University, Resource Persons and participants at the Conference

Group Photograph of top officials of the University, Resource Persons and participants at the Conference

He added that Biochar can also serve as raw material in building technology, engineering, packaging, cosmetics and a whole range of consumer products, however, the manifold benefits of the technology is yet to be fully enjoyed in Nigeria.

Dr Fagbenro therefore, strongly advocated that “other professionals, particularly those outside the frontier of agriculture and environment join hands with the Biochar Initiative of Nigeria to annex the unfolding benefits of biochar technology that can address the complex and multiple livelihood needs of every Nigerian and consequently reduce poverty among our people”.

The President who noted that the theme for the Conference, “Biochar Technology: Panacea for Sustainable Agriculture, Energy and Environmental Protection” was quite apt and deserves special attention considering the fact that at present and over the next few decades, climate change severely impact millions of smallholder farmers in the sub-Saharan Africa, including those in Nigeria, stated that Biochar has been shown to have ability to mitigate the intractable climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) in soils for hundreds of years.

He highlighted other benefits to include enhancing plant growth to capture and reduce atmospheric CO2 in photosynthesis and reducing emission of greenhouse gases of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) when added to soil.

A cross-section of participants

A cross-section of participants

This according to him will address three of the biggest challenges of the twenty-first century as identified in the World Bank Study No. 88888 of 2014, which are the need to nearly double food production by 2050, to adapt and build resilience to a more and more challenging climatic environment, and to simultaneously achieve a substantial reduction in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration.

Dr Fagbenro further added that the use of Biochar in environmental remediation to stabilize soil contaminants such as soluble heavy metals or organic molecules is receiving increasing attention throughout the world as a promising functional material, adding that Biochar has been reported to increase systematic resistance by plants to fungal pathogens.

“We in the Biochar Initiative of Nigeria therefore strongly believe in the biochar technology and have an unquenchable passion for annexing its potential through systematic research. We regard the technology as a paradigm shift from where we are at present to where we are destined to be particularly in agricultural and environmental issues. It is a shift that we badly require now in the sub-Saharan Africa, and indeed in Nigeria, if we must make progress in our collective efforts to move forward.”