Fishing up organic waste to turn into valuable biochar

Volunteers recovering organic waste from Sungai Selangor as part of a biochar-making programme at Kampung Kuantan in Kuala Selangor.

TWENTY-THREE volunteers managed to clear 700kg of organic waste from Sungai Selangor as part of a biochar production programme in Kuala Selangor.

Organised by the Malaysian Society of Soil Science (MSSS), the community engagement programme saw the participation of three other NGOs: Inspirasi Kawa, Persatuan Pedayung Kelip-kelip Kampung Kuantan and Kelab Generasi Warisan Seri Asahan.

The programme was also supported by Kuala Selangor Municipal Council and Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas).

It took place at Pengkalan Adam in Kampung Kuantan, some 700m away from the village’s famous firefly sanctuary.

Volunteers got into boats to manually fish up organic waste consisting of driftwood, twigs, oil palm fronds and broken branches of mangrove trees from Sungai Selangor.

The river organic waste was then carried ashore, cut up, placed into a closed drum and burnt to obtain biochar, which has agricultural applications and is used in soil biology to retain water, nutrients as well as create beneficial conditions.

MSSS president Rosazlin Abdullah conducted a workshop on biochar production after the recent river clean-up.

A demonstration showed how a kiln could be fashioned out of a used metal drum as a low-cost solution for biochar production.

The kiln can transform about 50kg of raw materials, whereby 30% will be turned into biochar.

Volunteers also helped build test beds for the planting of berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) saplings so that the local community would be able to see the efficacy of biochar for themselves.

MSSS assistant treasurer Jeyanny Vijayanathan, who holds a doctorate in soil science, said the activity was funded by a US$25,000 grant (RM110,150) from the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility.

“The grant will go towards conducting workshops for the local community to raise awareness and impart technical knowledge on how to produce, store and market biochar as an alternative source of income,” said Jeyanny.

The event was a follow-up to a workshop conducted last March at the same location.

MSSS member Zamir Rasid said the site was specifically chosen as it was home to one of the largest firefly colonies in the world.

“Visitors may not be able to see the rubbish in the river because the firefly tours are only conducted at night. In the daytime, it’s a different matter,” said Zamir.

Organisers of the biochar programme hope to find a solution for the growing rubbish problem at the tourist attraction.

They also seek to provide more economic opportunities for the local community who can turn the organic waste recovered from the river into a commercial product.

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organic waste , Sungai Selangor , river


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