carbon farming the
future of malawi

Bringing energy and sustainable charcoal to the nation

PYROPOWER IN MALAWI

Malawi is the third poorest country in the world and 75% of people there live in rural areas in small houses thatched by grass. The fact is: people do not afford enough for their day to day needs - How can we bring energy for those who can't afford it?

95% of all Malawians - city, town and village dwellers alike- depend on wood charcoal to cook because most people cannot afford to pay for the electricity bills, even if a stove can be bought or accessed through micro-loans. On the other hand, farms are seeing an increasing amount of soil erosion and fertilisers are too expensive. As a result, many families starve with hunger every year.

Decentralised and affordable pyrolysis technology takes in organic waste - wood residues, tobacco stalk waste and coffee waste - which produces charcoal that is used for both clean cooking (sold by local entrepreneurs) and biochar (usually the women of the households take the initiative here).

Access to modern energy in Malawi remains low and is often limited to relying on traditional biomass sources such as fuelwood and charcoal. Biomass accounts for 89 percent of total energy consumption in Malawi while 95 percent of Malawian households (both city and rural) heavily rely on charcoal as primary source of energy for cooking. As the government continues to strive for sustainable economic growth, and affordable and reliable modern energy, the country faces the challenge of insufficient energy generation and supply. Currently, making charcoal in Malawi relies on traditional, inefficient systems where the conversion of biomass to charcoal is 11 : 1, which means 11 kg of forest wood is needed to produce just 1 kg of charcoal. Efficient kilns have a conversion ratio of 3 : 1.

High rates of deforestation have been recorded over the last two decades in Malawi. The reasons for the deforestation are attributed to agricultural expansion, dependence on wood fuel for energy, lack of suitable forest management measures, and of course high population growth and poverty levels. Forest cover of the country reduced from 47% in 1975 to 22% in 2019.  This is the highest deforestation rate in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, representing a net loss of some 30,000 to 40,000 hectares per year. Malawihas an agro-based economy, land degradation and deforestation does not onlyreduce productivity but also affects the fisheries industry, as water washesmore silt into the lake [Lake Malawi].

With over three-quarters of the country’s soils at risk, soil loss in Malawi represents a major threat to food security and nutrition, agricultural growth, the provision of ecosystem services and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since the Malawian economy is highly dependent on agriculture, soil loss is a significant hindrance to theoverall economic development of the country. Soil loss is fuelled by agents of erosion (wind, runoff, gravity) and further influenced by factors such as unsustainable soil management, land use/cover management, topography, and soil type. Some of these factors are often modified by human activities in ways that can increase or slow down the rate of soil loss process.

·Known as a "silent killer", over 1.6 million children die annually throughout the developing world from the consequences of exposure to biomass fuel smoke. Malawi is rife with organic waste material that is mostly managed through burning (e.g. Rice bran, maize bran, sawdust and groundnuts shells). These will end up being aimlessly burnt and destroyed, most of the time beside homes, producing large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and particulate matter that are extremely harmful to one's respitory health. The Malawi government is encouraging policies to establish waste re-processing and disposal facilties. This would ensure that the collected waste would be processed and recycled rather than dumped and burnt, thus creating jobs opportunities for the youths while uplifting the health standards of the population.

CEHSP and Pyropower


A Message from Stanley Kulapani (CEO, CEHSP):

"Energy is the lifeblood of the economy as itserves as a crucial input to all economic and social services. A well-developedand comprehensive energy sector can improve service delivery and increase outputsin industries such as manufacturing, trade, tourism and other services."
Stanley is the founding CEO of CEHSP, which has partnered with Pyropower since 2020 as the lead ambassador and frontrunner to bring Pyropower to the different industries impacted by technology. Stanley has experience in Forestry Management, ISO Systems implementation of environmental programmes in Malawi at JTI and Limbe leaf.

Considering the volume of trees and carbon emissions associated with the tobacco value chain, CEHSP and Pyropower would like to introduce a new technology that would significantly reduce energy and carbon emissions. Deforestation is also a large issue for charcoal production.

The partnerships sees an opportunity to involve the larger farming population to engage with the global sustainable transition.

Isaiah

The voice of Malawi
Isaiah is a lives in Malawi and has first hand experience with the conditions and context of charcoal. He is a founding director of of an NGO based in Lilongwe, Malawi and is dedicated to help people have a better life by introducing new technologies in the local communities.

Here, in this video he shows how people use charcoal for domestic cooking purposes. Much of the energy in open air burning is wasted, creating negative impact on the environment and on the people's health. Isaiah is one of the many community leaders helping to bring Pyropower and the change he wants to see for the living conditions of his people.
In 2019, we developed a pyrolysis cookstove, Free for people of Malawi to Feed Themselves
Pyropower with its cheap, portable and highly effective device, is trying to bring the positive change in the lives of people in Malawi. Pyropower is working in regions where biomass cultivation is a primary industry. This means any agricultural-based communities would be able to receive the full benefits of Pyropower's solution.

Locals are now be able to upcycle their waste, and we are able to provide them with (heat) energy, namely to dry crops for storage and distribution, and returns the biochar into their fields, which reduces reliance, and thus costs, on water and fertiliser by 50%. These communities are usually isolated and in the fringes of cities, where it is too expensive for developing nations to extend the energy grid into. 
Kiln technology to provide heat for tobacco drying
- see more about EFESTO's OSE (click here) from our Indonesia Project
For more information about our work in Malawi, go to contact page.