"Cookstove-Biochar Ecosystems" for Clean Cooking and Soil Restoration in Bangladesh

Julien Winter
Publicado: 26 Julio 2021
Última edición: 03 Agosto 2021
remove_red_eye 800 Vistas


Bangladesh faces harsh challenges as it loses land to rising sea levels. However, the impact can be buffered if we raise the productivity of inland soils. Presently, yield is being limited by low soil organic matter.  We can increase soil humus by applying biochar fertilizers.  We have seen dramatic increases in crop yield. The challenge has been to make biochar, because good biomass in high demand for use as cooking fuel. We make biochar sustainably as a by-product of cooking by using a culturally-appropriate top-lit updraft (TLUD) gasifier stove for rural homes. When implemented in villages, we call this “the cookstove-biochar ecosystem” wherein the women with their cookstoves are ‘keystone’ species that make biochar possible, and farmers with their biochar are ‘ecosystem engineers’ that make ‘permanent’ increases in soil organic matter and biological productivity. Improved crop yields incentivize the adoption of cookstoves and the production of biochar.   


Sur de Asia
Scale of implementation
Campos de cultivo
Adaptación al cambio climático
Ciencia y investigación
Comunicación y divulgación
Energías renovables
Financiación sostenible
Gestión de residuos
Gestión de tierras
Incorporación de la perspectiva de género
Medios de vida sostenibles
Mitigación del cambio climático
Poblaciones indígenas
Reducción de desastres
Salud y bienestar humano
Seguridad alimentaria
Servicios ecosistémicos
Tratamiento de aguas residuales
Lluvia errática
Degradación de tierras y bosques
Aumento del nivel del mar
Falta de acceso a financiación a largo plazo
Desempleo / pobreza
Sustainable development goals
ODS 1 - Fin de la pobreza
ODS 2 - Hambre cero
ODS 3 - Salud y bienestar
ODS 5 - Igualidad de género
ODS 6 - Agua limpia y saneamiento
ODS 7 - Energía asequible y no contaminante
ODS 8 - Trabajo decente y crecimiento económico
ODS 12 - Producción y consumo responsables
ODS 13 - Acción por el clima
ODS 15 - Vida de ecosistemas terrestres
Aichi targets
Meta 4: Producción y consumo sostenibles
Meta 7: Agricultura, acuicultura y silvicultura
Meta 8: Reducción de la contaminación
Meta 14: Los servicios ecosistemicos
Meta 15: Restauración de ecosistemas y resiliencia
Sendai Framework
Meta 1: Reducir la mortalidad global por desastre para 2030
Meta 2: Reducir el número de personas afectadas a nivel global para 2030
Meta 3: Reducir las pérdidas económicas directas por desastre en relación al PIB para 2030
Business engagement approach
Compromiso directo con asociaciones
Indirecto a través de los consumidores
Indirecto a través del gobierno


Dhaka, Bangladesh | Shibalaya, Manda, Daudpur, Monohardi


Our project is complex and multidisciplinary. In a proof-of-concept intervention, challenges were addressed, but all aspects need continued research and broader participation by scientists and development workers.

Env1: Demand for fuel wood is greater than the supply, so compressed biomass fuels should be developed.

Env2: Locally appropriate agronomic use of biochar has to be researched and demonstrated.

Soc1: Villagers have to be acquainted, and have practical experience with several technologies at the same time.

Soc2: The knowledge has to take root in the village.  We deliberately target recipients who are innovators and curious to adopt new technology.

Soc3:  Women have to prepare fuel for the TLUD stove, but that can be somebody's livelihood.

Ecn:1:  The cookstove has to be affordable.

Ecn:2:  The 'ecosystem' will not develop its postive feed-back loops until biochar has acquired a 'commercial' value by virtue of farmers' experiences with yields.



Women and household:  healthier, livelihoods.  

Farmers: higher yields, lower costs.  

Country:  rural to urban migration; climate refugees. 

Planet: C sequestration.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The TLUD Cookstove - Biochar Ecosystem


There are many 'building blocks' in an ecosystem, but a only few of the play a predominant role.  Ecosystems are usually named after dominant features or species, such as the Sundarbans or Sal Forests.


In our ‘ecosystem’ women with their cookstoves are ‘keystone’ species that make biochar. Farmers with their biochar are ‘ecosystem engineers’ that make ‘permanent’ increases in soil organic matter and biological productivity.   


They interact through positive feed-back loops that reinforce each other through the flow of materials (biochar, manure, composts, foods, fuel) and money.  Biochar could increase Akha acceptance


Biochar increases the productivity of the ecosystem, with creates new opportunities for livelihoods.   Increases in cash income make it possible for families to purchase imported technologies such as photovoltaic energy, electronics, school supplies and medicines.  


Other minor 'species' or 'building blocks' in the ecosystem include women making TLUD fuels, agri-businesses making biochar fertilizers, and university professors.  This is called biodiversity.


Top-Lit Updraft (TLUD) Gasifier Cookstoves compared to traditional biomass cookstoves:

  • Drastically reduced exposure of women to cooking smoke.
  • Automatically makes biochar as a by-product of cooking.
  • Uses half as much fuel, despite producing biochar.
  • Provides income through the sale or use of biochar.
  • Improves women's qulaity of life and empowerment.


  • Sequesters atmospheric carbon into soil organic matter.
  • Increases soil biodiversity and productivity by building humus in organic matter-depleted soils.  Soils with higher organic matter have:
    • better aeration
    • better retention of plant available water
    • a buffered supply of plant nutrients
  • Combined with urine and manures, conserves plant nutrients:
    • reducing damage cause by eutrophication of water and NOx emission to the atmosphere.
    • increases the efficiency of recycling plant nutrients
    • reduces the need (cost) of commercial fertilizers.
  • Improved crop growth
    • increases household income and village economic activity
    • increases the resiliance of crops to drought.
    • allows Bangladesh - a densely populate country - to compensate (partially?) from land lost to rising sea levels.

Contribuido por

Imagen de winter.julien_40558

Julien Winter Bangladesh Biochar Initiative

Other contributors

Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Biochar Initiative