Biochar Project Indonesia

What We Do

As one of the first countries to commit to a significant reduction in its greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, the Government of Indonesia is leading the way towards a greener future. Indonesia aims to reduce emission levels by 26 percent by 2020, below the business-as-usual trajectory, and by 41 percent with adequate international support. A large proportion of these emissions originate from land-use changes and deforestation. It is therefore critical for Indonesia to sustainably manage its natural resource base and agriculture practices while simultaneously pursuing economic growth, advancing overall development and continuing to reduce poverty. The province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) is located in the eastern part of Indonesia. NTT is one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia with a poverty incidence of 25.7%, compared to 16% nationally (Source: Central Statistics Agency, BPS). The comparatively high level of poverty is a chronic problem, and has been for decades. Livelihoods in NTT are overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture (80%), and rural incomes are around six times lower than urban incomes.

Agriculture mainly takes place in the form of subsistence-based rain-fed crop production. With current farming practices rural communities are highly dependent on the climate for their production and ensuring food security is a major challenge. Other than climate, crop yield is also function of the soil quality. In South-East Asia, vast areas of cultivated land are acidic tropical soils, which make them marginally suitable for agriculture. Agriculture in the province of Central Sulawesi is also practiced on this type of sandy-clayish acidic soil and affects the production of corn and cocoa among other crops.

The BIOCHAR project is part of multidisciplinary field research effort executed in four countries in Asia and Africa, namely Zambia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal, set up by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), in collaboration with relevant institutions in the host country. As part of this research the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focuses on the introduction of biochar to rural communities in NTT and Central Sulawesi. The practice consists in enhancing acidic and dry soil quality by adding charcoal obtained from waste biomass heated without access to oxygen (pyrolysis).

UNDP empowers rural communities and advocates for policy actions to take into account the importance of biochar as 1) a climate change mitigation measure, through sequestration of CO2 in the soil; and 2) as an adaption measure enhancing properties of soils exposed to extreme dryness and wetness, hence improving crop yield and reduce economic and health vulnerability to climate change.

The relevance of the BIOCHAR project resides in the fact that empowering rural communities to use a simple and cost-effective farming practice brings about the direct benefits of improving crop yield and subsequently livelihoods, while at the same time, the indirect benefits of replenishing soil carbon pools and contributing to the reduction of national GHG emissions.

Key Milestones

Prior to implementing large-scale application of biochar amendment of soil in Indonesia, field experiments have been conducted in NTT and Central Sulawesi provinces to highlight the benefits of the technique and expected results for future replication: for more information please download the factsheet


UNDP Indonesia Country Office
Menara Thamrin 8-9th Floor
Jl. MH Thamrin Kav. 3 
Jakarta 10250
Phone: +62-21-3141308
Fax: +62-21-39838941

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