Buenos dias from Matagalpa, Nicaragua!  One week into our partnership with Agros International and Groundwork Opportunities, there are promising signs of growth and progress for biochar producing stoves in Central America.  The foundation for an understanding of the soil-improvement potential of biochar and combustion principles of the Anila stove has been laid, and the citizens of Agros´ community of San Jose are eager to learn more about how SeaChar´s technology can directly improve their lives.  The smoke that constantly billows out from the kitchens of the 25 families in this community might soon be a thing of the past, and there´s hope that in the coming years, those burdensome fertilizer costs can be reduced signicantly.  After the first round of stove demos, there are less concerns about usability, with one village resident commenting, “using this stove is completely easy.”  The stove and the biochar it produces are constantly referred to as “bonito,” meaning “pretty” or “nice.”
Men, women, and children all share a common curiousity, as the benefits of the stove can affect them all.  Even though the women do the great majority of the cooking, the men appreciate the fact that it burns so cleanly.  When the first charred corn husks and other agricultural wastes came out of the stove, it was apparent even to some of the kids that this could easily be added to the community´s organic fertilizer mix (called “bocache”) or used in their family´s composting toilet.  The stage is being set for the first batch of Anila stoves to be produced locally here in Matagalpa, thanks to the financial support of Groundwork Opportunities.  From there the community can experiment with a variety of different biomass uses in the stove and set up plots to measure soil fertility improvements using different charred agricultural wastes in various combinations.  We have a lot to learn, and I have less then three weeks left to set the citizens of San Jose on the right track with this technology, but the only way to go is up.  Here´s to the promise of “el biocarbón!”  Look out for more updates in the coming weeks.
Until then, Scott Eaton