There is a good article by Abu Siddique in the Dhaka Tribune on low soil organic matter in Bangladesh.
“World Soil Day: Two-fifths of arable land in Bangladesh lacks organic matter”
He interviewed Md Delowar Hossain Molla, director of SRDI.
“According to the Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI), about 42% of the total arable land areas – which is around 43.4 lakh hectares currently lacks the standard proportion of organic matter in the topsoil. … 5% organic matters”
The response of farmers has been to add more fertilizer. “Records show that the use of such fertilizers in Bangladesh increased by 66% from 1999 to 2008, in tandem with a 340% rise in government subsidies on them over the same period.”
Early Indications of Large Increases in Yields from Using Biochar
Early results from applying biochar from the Akha-Biochar project to soil show a dramatic increase in yield of vegetables. The biochar is able to make a long-term, stable addition to the soil organic matter. Farmers are excited, because they see this as ‘free’ fertilizer coming from Akha cookstoves (whilst still using 25-30% less wood fuel that a traditional Chula). They will be able to cut back on expensive inorganic fertilizers. Research is being conducted at universities to quantify the response of crop growth to increasing rates of biochar application. We will know the results soon.
The Akha-Biochar project makes biochar production possible in rural homes, but we need more. Research is needed into the safe, contaminant-free, production of biochar by the pyrolysis of urban organic wastes. This will be a major scientific and engineering undertaking.
Given its hot humid climate, and relatively fertile soil, Bangladesh could see a huge benefit from increasing soil organic matter with biochar.