TUNISIA • In the light of increasingly scarce energy resources and a general shift towards eco-friendly energies, a farm here has developed a form of biofuel as an alternative to firewood, which many consider to be a major contributor to forest degradation.
The Chanouf Farm has managed to turn tree and forest waste into an extra source of revenue in a challenging agricultural sector.
Located in Manouba, a suburb of the capital Tunis, the farm developed an agroforestry waste recycling unit to produce organic charcoal and biomass energy out of pear and olive tree waste.
The farm had produced pears and olives since 1995, but became the Chanouf Farm-Biofire company in 2015.
It started focusing on using bio-waste to make flammable coal briquettes, wood charcoal and tar as ecological alternatives to firewood.
Wood waste - like firewood, leaves and bark - is collected and ground, dried and pressed, which results in two main products: charcoal briquettes and ready-to-use coal.
Finally, charcoal residue is again subjected to pressure and turned into pressed coal. The new residue is charred (carbonised) once more and turned into tar.
Bio-charcoal, also called biochar, is also made with biomass from discarded organic products and wood waste.
The Chanouf Farm hired researchers who discovered that charcoal waste too can be transformed into vegetable tar - a substance capable of effectively eliminating diseases affecting fruit trees.
"We hope to expand," said its director Radwan Al-Ayadi.