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A sustainable cup: how biochar is changing coffee farming

In a groundbreaking move for the coffee industry, French green tech company NetZero and global coffee giant ECOM have embarked on a pioneering partnership to introduce large-scale biochar use in coffee cultivation. This collaboration marks an industry first, aiming to significantly enhance sustainability in coffee farming.

How biochar is changing coffee farming_Close up on mans hands holding a handful of a biochar, coffee bushes in the background_visual 1Close up on man's hands holding a handful of a biochar, coffee bushes in the background. AI generated picture.

The partnership's immediate goal is to establish an industrial-grade biochar factory in Machado, Brazil, a major coffee production hub. Set to begin construction in April 2024, the facility plans to produce 4,000 tonnes of biochar annually, enabling the direct removal of over 6,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere. Additionally, it aims to reduce tens of thousands of tonnes of emissions previously generated by conventional agricultural practices.

Biochar, recognised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a crucial tool in nature restoration, is a one-time soil amendment created from residual biomass. It improves soil health by retaining water and nutrients, thus increasing crop yields and reducing the need for fertilisers. This not only cuts down the carbon footprint associated with coffee production but also enhances the resilience of plants against droughts and other extreme weather conditions.

Read more: Biochar market analysis: pricing insights and global trends

The collaboration between NetZero and ECOM represents a significant step towards decarbonising the agricultural supply chain, boosting crop productivity, and improving the livelihoods of farmers. By incorporating biochar into coffee farming, the partnership aims to deliver carbon-neutral coffee products while fostering sustainable agricultural practices.

Read more: Turning waste into opportunity: The feasibility stage of DGB’s biochar project

Axel Reinaud, co-founder and CEO of NetZero, highlighted the project's potential to demonstrate biochar's role as a strategic solution for sustainable agriculture. Teddy Esteve, ECOM's Head of Coffee and Chief Carbon Officer, expressed pride in the partnership, emphasising its alignment with ECOM's longstanding commitment to agricultural innovation and sustainability.

This initiative is not only about enhancing coffee production but also about making a positive impact on the environment and farming communities, demonstrating a scalable model for sustainable agriculture worldwide.

The integration of biochar into land management techniques is a vital method for achieving sustainable development. Through the utilisation of biochar, the aim is to bolster environmental health, counteract biodiversity depletion, and build a robust planet for future generations. 

At DGB Group, our commitment lies in leveraging nature-based strategies, such as reforestation, afforestation, and the restoration of biodiversity, to rejuvenate the environment. We provide clear avenues for both businesses and individuals to engage with and support these efforts, creating a symbiotic relationship with the natural world. Sustainable agriculture and agroforestry underscores our dedication to nurturing a sustainable and resilient environment through innovative and responsible practices.

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