Special Issue "Advances in Food and Non-Food Biomass Production, Processing and Use in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards a Basis for a Regional Bioeconomy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Daniel Callo-Concha
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
Interests: systems thinking for handling complexity; agroforestry, agriculture and rural development; food and nutrition security
Dr. Manfred Denich
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
Interests: land use and food security; renewable energy; environmental and climate change; ecosystem services; sustainable use of natural resources; biodiversity; urbanization
Dr. Hannah Jaenicke
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
Interests: biodiversity; food and nutrition security; agroforestry; underutilized crops
Dr. Christine B. Schmitt
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
Interests: sustainable land use systems; biodiversity conservation; tropical forests; environmental policies; transdisciplinary approaches

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The rising global demand for biomass as a source of food, feed, industrial raw materials, and energy is increasing pressure on the agricultural sector. The situation is particularly severe in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many countries struggle to attain food security while facing emerging alternative demands for biomass.

Therefore, it is crucial to safeguard food security and at the same time set the foundation for a prospective regional bioeconomy. This will only be possible by harnessing productivity and efficiency gains throughout the entire biomass-producing, processing and trading system(s).

Related research activities are already ongoing in Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria within the framework of the BiomassWeb project (www.biomassweb.org), with a focus on key species of regional and/or national importance, i.e., maize, cassava, plantain/banana/enset and bamboo.

This Special Issue calls for advances in exploring, developing, and testing innovative approaches to produce, process, trade and consume food and non-food biomass in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are interested in studies that highlight approaches to using traditional African crops, cascading uses, recycling of biomass and the use of biomass waste. Studies relevant for developing, modeling, and implementing comprehensive land uses, and bioeconomy strategies for Sub-Saharan African countries and regions are also encouraged. We look forward to learning from studies carried out in other Sub-Saharan countries dealing with crop species beyond those emphasized in the BiomassWeb project. Disciplinary studies, as well as those in which interdisciplinary and participatory approaches were considered and implemented are welcome.

As the current state of development of the related sectors is rather young, prospective-oriented research that explores future possibilities, synergies and trade-offs between and across different biomass uses will be appreciated.

We look forward to your contributions.

References:

El-Chichakli B. et al. 2016. Five cornerstones of a global bioeconomy. Nature 535: 221-223.

German Bioeconomic Council. 2015. Bioeconomy Policy (Part II): Synopsis of National Strategies around the World. A report from the German Bioeconomy Council (GBC). Office of the Bioeconomy Council, Berlin. http://biooekonomierat.de/en/publications/

Schmid O, Padel S, Levidow L. 2012. The Bio-Economy Concept and Knowledge Base in a Public Goods and Farmer Perspective. Bio-based and Applied Economics 1(1):47-63.

Virchow D, Beuchelt T, Denich M, Loos TK, Hoppe M, Kuhn A. 2014. The value web approach so that the South can also benefit from the bioeconomy. Rural 21, Vol. 48, Nr. 3/2014, pp. 16-18.

Virchow, D., Beuchelt, T.D., Kuhn, A., and M. Denich 2016. Biomass-Based Value Webs: A Novel Perspective for Emerging Bioeconomies in Sub-Saharan Africa. In:  Technological and Institutional Innovation for Marginalized Smallholders in Agricultural Development. F.W. Gatzweiler and J. von Braun (Eds.), Springer International Publishing, pp. 225-238. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-25718-1_14

Sincerely,

Dr. Daniel Callo-Concha
Dr. Manfred Denich
Dr. Hannah Jaenicke
Dr. Christine B. Schmitt
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • biomass
  • production processing and trade
  • utilization
  • value chain
  • value web
  • food and nutrition security
  • waste
  • recycling
  • energy
  • bioeconomy
  • Africa
  • land-use strategies

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Family Farms, Agricultural Productivity, and the Terrain of Food (In)security in Ethiopia
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4981; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184981 - 12 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Despite economic development and social improvements, millions of family farmers in Ethiopia are still struggling with food insecurity. Lack of technology adoption by family farmers is often considered as the root cause for low agricultural productivity and persistence of food insecurity. Based on [...] Read more.
Despite economic development and social improvements, millions of family farmers in Ethiopia are still struggling with food insecurity. Lack of technology adoption by family farmers is often considered as the root cause for low agricultural productivity and persistence of food insecurity. Based on a study of family farms in southwestern Ethiopia, we show the complex nexus between family farming, food insecurity, and agricultural productivity. We collected qualitative and quantitative data through 300 sample household interviews; expert interviews with elders and village chairmen, agricultural extension agents, farmers’ cooperative heads, as well as experts in NGOs, research institutes, and state agencies; and on-farm observations with in-depth interviews and discussions with individual farmers. Our findings illustrate that everyday experiences, culture, knowledge, and priorities of farmers coupled with ecological and political factors play crucial roles—and need more consideration than the classic ‘lack of technology’ theorem. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Household Welfare Implications of Better Fertilizer Access and Lower Use Inefficiency: Long-Term Scenarios for Ethiopia
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3952; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143952 - 20 Jul 2019
Abstract
High population growth in Ethiopia is aggravating farmland scarcity, as the agrarian share of the population stays persistently high, and also creates increasing demand for food and non-food biomass. Based on this fact, this study investigates welfare implications of intensification measures like interventions [...] Read more.
High population growth in Ethiopia is aggravating farmland scarcity, as the agrarian share of the population stays persistently high, and also creates increasing demand for food and non-food biomass. Based on this fact, this study investigates welfare implications of intensification measures like interventions that improve access and use efficiency to modern farming inputs. Using a dynamic meso-economic modeling framework for Ethiopia, ex-ante scenarios that simulate a) decreased costs of fertilizer use and b) elevated efficiency of fertilizer application for all crops are run for a period of 20 years. Fertilizer-yield response functions are estimated (based on results from an agronomic crop model and actual survey data) and embedded into the economic model in order to get realistic marginal returns to fertilizer application. This is our novel methodological contribution in which we introduce how to calculate input use inefficiency based on attainable yield levels from agronomic crop model and actual yield levels. Simultaneous implementation of these interventions lead to annual yield increases of 8.7 percent for an average crop farmer compared to the current level. Increased fertilizer application is also found to be profitable for an average farmer despite price reduction for crops following increased market supply. As a result of price and income effects of the interventions, all household types exhibit welfare gain. Non-farming households, being net consumers, enjoy lower costs of living. Rural farming households enjoy even higher welfare gain than non-farming households because they consume a higher share from crop commodities that become cheaper, and because their farming profits increase. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Biomass-Based Value Webs for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systems Modeling Approach
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2885; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102885 - 21 May 2019
Abstract
Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is dependent on complex networks of interconnected actors and the flows of resources (biomass, capital) and information among them. However, the degree to which actors and value chains of different crops are in fact interconnected and their [...] Read more.
Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is dependent on complex networks of interconnected actors and the flows of resources (biomass, capital) and information among them. However, the degree to which actors and value chains of different crops are in fact interconnected and their current systemic influence on food security are unclear. Therefore, the concept of “value webs” to better capture the complexity within the networks emerges. Biomass-based value webs of selected crops in Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are modeled using the systems analysis software iMODELER and by eliciting factors as well as their interconnections through participatory stakeholder workshops. Furthermore, a generic model was created compiling the country models to identify overarching system dynamics with supporting and hindering factors impacting food security in SSA. Findings from the country models show highly complex value webs, suggesting that the predominant value chain approach may oversimplify actual structures and resource flows in real life settings. However, few interconnections within the value webs link the actors and flows of different crops, contradicting predictions emerging from other research. Results from the generic model allow for a critical reflection on the relation between value web dynamics and food security policy in SSA. Current national and regional policy trends targeting market integration, mechanization, and reduction of post-harvest losses are supported by model results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Determinants of Intensity of Biomass Utilization: Evidence from Cassava Smallholders in Nigeria
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2516; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092516 - 30 Apr 2019
Abstract
The paradigm shift from value chains to value webs in the emerging bioeconomy has necessitated a review on how agricultural systems transit to value web production systems. This study examines how smallholders in the cassava system in Nigeria have been able to increase [...] Read more.
The paradigm shift from value chains to value webs in the emerging bioeconomy has necessitated a review on how agricultural systems transit to value web production systems. This study examines how smallholders in the cassava system in Nigeria have been able to increase utilization of biomass in their production systems. Using a sample of 541 households, the study employed cluster analysis and ordered probit regression to examine the intensity of cassava utilization and the determinants of the intensity of utilization. The study found that over 50% of the respondents were classified as low-intensity utilization households, while ~13% were high-intensity utilization households. Land, social capital, farming experience, and asset ownership increased the probability of intensifying cassava utilization among smallholders. The study recommends strengthening assets acquisition, improving land quality and encouraging social capital development among smallholders. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Smallholder Agroprocessors’ Willingness to Pay for Value-Added Solid-Waste Management Solutions
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1759; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061759 - 23 Mar 2019
Abstract
The paper examined the willingness of smallholder cassava processors to pay for value-added solid wastes management solutions in Nigeria. We employed a multistage sampling procedure to obtain primary data from 403 cassava processors from the forest and Guinea savannah zones of Nigeria. Contingent [...] Read more.
The paper examined the willingness of smallholder cassava processors to pay for value-added solid wastes management solutions in Nigeria. We employed a multistage sampling procedure to obtain primary data from 403 cassava processors from the forest and Guinea savannah zones of Nigeria. Contingent valuation and logistic regression were used to determine the willingness of the processors to pay for improved waste management options and the factors influencing their decision on the type of waste management system adopted and willingness to pay for a value-added solid-waste management system option. Women constituted the largest population of smallholder cassava processors, and the processors generated a lot of solid waste (605–878 kg/processor/season). Waste was usually dumped (59.6%), given to others (58.1%), or sold in wet (27.8%) or dry (35.5%) forms. The factors influencing the processors’ decision on the type of waste management system to adopt included sex of processors, membership of an association, quantity of cassava processed and ownership structure. Whereas the processors were willing to pay for new training on improved waste management technologies, they were not willing to pay more than US$3. However, US$3 may be paid for training in mushroom production. It is expected that public expenditure on training to empower processors to use solid-waste conversion technologies for generating value-added products will lead to such social benefits as lower exposure to environmental toxins from the air, rivers and underground water, among others, and additional income for the smallholder processors. The output of the study can serve as the basis for developing usable and affordable solid-waste management systems for community cassava processing units in African countries involved in cassava production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Options for Sustainable Intensification of Maize Production in Ethiopia
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1707; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061707 - 21 Mar 2019
Abstract
The agricultural intensification of farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa is a prerequisite to alleviate rural poverty and to improve livelihood. In this modelling exercise, we identified sustainable intensification scenarios for maize-based cropping systems in Ethiopia. We evaluated Conventional Intensification (CI) as continuous maize [...] Read more.
The agricultural intensification of farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa is a prerequisite to alleviate rural poverty and to improve livelihood. In this modelling exercise, we identified sustainable intensification scenarios for maize-based cropping systems in Ethiopia. We evaluated Conventional Intensification (CI) as continuous maize monocropping using higher Mineral Fertilizer (MF) rates with and without the incorporation of Crop Residues (CR) in the soil. We also evaluated the effect of groundnut in rotation with the maize-based cropping system with the current Farmer’s Practice + Rotation (FP + Rotation) and increased MF application rates (CI + Rotation) combined with CR incorporation. The results suggest that, under CI, there was a positive effect of MF and CR. The incorporation of only CR in the field increased the maize yield by 45.3% compared to the farmer’s yield under current MF rates. CR combined with higher MF (60 kg N ha−1 + 20 kg P ha−1) increased the yield by 134.6%. Incorporating CR and MF was also beneficial under rotation with groundnut. The maize yields increased up to 110.1% depending upon the scenarios tested. In the scenario where CR was not incorporated in the field, the maize yield declined by 21.9%. The Gross Economic Profit suggests that groundnut in rotation with maize is advantageous across Ethiopia in terms of the net return with a few exceptions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Opportunities and Challenges in the Ethiopian Bamboo Sector: A Market Analysis of the Bamboo-Based Value Web
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1644; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061644 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bamboo is one of the more important natural resources in Ethiopia and contributes to the bioeconomy as a potential source for high-value products. While the country is the largest producer of bamboo in Africa, the existing utilization of the bamboo sector in Ethiopia [...] Read more.
Bamboo is one of the more important natural resources in Ethiopia and contributes to the bioeconomy as a potential source for high-value products. While the country is the largest producer of bamboo in Africa, the existing utilization of the bamboo sector in Ethiopia remains under-developed, with little value addition. This study identifies the current market challenges and opportunities for future developments of the northern Ethiopian bamboo sector, with a focus on the Injibara township. This research adopts the “value web” approach to assess the potentials of different product lines that create the bamboo biomass value web. We utilize qualitative data collection methods, in particular, semi-structured interviews and informal focus group discussions with key stakeholders. Our findings suggest that bamboo farmers in Injibara are constrained by a lack of local demand and market for bamboo products with high-value addition, leading to an absence of product diversification and innovation. Furthermore, there is an overreliance on foreign technology and methods that are poorly matched for local needs. We recommend that policymakers invest in targeted and effective training strategies on bamboo cultivation and processing. Furthermore, farmers can benefit from decreasing their reliance on middle men with cooperatives or contract arrangements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phytotoxicity of Corncob Biochar before and after Heat Treatment and Washing
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010030 - 21 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Biochar from crop residues such as corncobs can be used for soil amendment, but its negative effects have also been reported. This study aims to evaluate the phytotoxic effects of different biochar treatments and application rates on cress (Lepidium sativum). Corncob [...] Read more.
Biochar from crop residues such as corncobs can be used for soil amendment, but its negative effects have also been reported. This study aims to evaluate the phytotoxic effects of different biochar treatments and application rates on cress (Lepidium sativum). Corncob biochar was produced via slow pyrolysis without using purging gas. Biochar treatments included fresh biochar (FB), dried biochar (DB), washed biochar (WB), and biochar water extract (WE). Biochar application rates of 10, 20, and 30 t/ha were investigated. Significant phytotoxic effects of biochar were observed on germination rates, shoot length, fresh weight, and dry matter content, while severe toxic effects were identified in FB and WE treatments. Germination rate after 48 h (GR48) decreased with the increase of biochar application rates in all treatments. The observed order of performance of the biochar treatments for germination, shoot length, and shoot fresh weight for every biochar application rate was WB>DB>WE>FB, while it was the reverse order for the shoot dry matter content. WB treatment showed the best performance in reducing the phytotoxicity of biochar. The mitigation of the phytotoxicity in fresh corncob biochar by washing and heat treatment was found to be a simple and effective method. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Potential of Plantain Residues for the Ghanaian Bioeconomy—Assessing the Current Fiber Value Web
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4825; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124825 - 18 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
An essential part in the concept of any emerging bioeconomy includes the sustainable use of biomass as a resource for industrial raw materials. Focusing on the increasing demand for natural fibers, it will be necessary to identify alternative sources without compromising food security. [...] Read more.
An essential part in the concept of any emerging bioeconomy includes the sustainable use of biomass as a resource for industrial raw materials. Focusing on the increasing demand for natural fibers, it will be necessary to identify alternative sources without compromising food security. Here, untapped potential lies in the use of plantain residues. Yet, it is unclear how or whether this can be activated. This article investigates the current situation in Ghana as a major plantain producer in Africa. Based on data collected with participatory tools, expert interviews, and group discussions, we (i) assess predominant plantain production structures, (ii) derive a stakeholder network map identifying institutional challenges, and (iii) discuss the potential starting points for linking the supply side with the national or international fiber market. Results indicate that there is substantial interest of private enterprises for high quality fibers. Despite traditional knowledge, after fruit harvest the fiber rich plantain pseudostems usually remain in the field. From an institutional point of view, key stakeholders and structures exist that could boost the establishment of a sustainable plantain based fiber value web. Key to such an endeavor, however, would be to pilot activities, including technology transfer of suitable innovations from other countries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Value Addition and Productivity Differentials in the Nigerian Cassava System
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4770; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124770 - 14 Dec 2018
Abstract
There is an increasing need to improve value addition in order to get maximum utility from agricultural systems. Using a retrospective panel data from 482 cassava farmers covering the years 2015–2017, this study examined the effect of value addition on productivity of farmers [...] Read more.
There is an increasing need to improve value addition in order to get maximum utility from agricultural systems. Using a retrospective panel data from 482 cassava farmers covering the years 2015–2017, this study examined the effect of value addition on productivity of farmers in the cassava system in Nigeria. We analysed a non-parametric Data Envelopment Analysis to examine productivity across cassava production systems over the three year period. We also examined the impact of value addition on productivity using an endogenous switching regression to account for unobservables that determine the decision to add value and productivity of the farmers. The study found that cost and revenue outlays increased with value addition. Cassava farmers in general operated below the efficiency frontier, with total productivity declining over the 2015–2017 period. However, higher value addition farmers had better efficiency and non-reducing productivity in the periods studied. We found evidence of selection bias in the decision to add value and productivity of the farmers. The conditional and unconditional outcome estimates revealed positive gains in productivity with value addition, confirming the hypothesis that value addition increases farming households’ productivity. We recommend that essential services such as extension services, agricultural training, and ease of enterprise registration that drive agricultural value addition be made available to farmers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Ghana’s Comparative Advantage in Maize Production and the Role of Fertilizers
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4181; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114181 - 13 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Maize is one of the most important cereal crops produced and consumed in West Africa, but yields are far under their potential and the production gap leads to growing import bills. After the structural adjustment program, fertilizer subsidies again became a popular intervention [...] Read more.
Maize is one of the most important cereal crops produced and consumed in West Africa, but yields are far under their potential and the production gap leads to growing import bills. After the structural adjustment program, fertilizer subsidies again became a popular intervention to increase yields in most African countries. Ghana introduced fertilizer subsidies in 2008, with high government expenses. This study assesses the competitiveness of Ghanaian maize production and the significance of socio-economic and management variables in determining high yields in northern Ghana. Household survey data and secondary data were applied in a Policy Analysis Matrix (PAM) to test private and social profitability of the fertilizer subsidy policy. Additionally, a probit model is used to determine the characteristics that contribute to higher yields. The results suggest that production systems with Ghana’s above-average yields of 1.5 Mt/ha are profitable at household level and contribute to its economic growth, whereas production systems below this threshold report negative social profits and depend on government intervention. However, fertilizers did not increase the likelihood of a household to fall in the category of high-output production system, whereas the use of improved seeds and herbicides does. In conclusion, the analysis highlights the importance of additional measures, especially the use of supporting inputs as well as management practices, to increased maize productivity. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Tree Species Diversity and Socioeconomic Perspectives of the Urban (Food) Forest of Accra, Ghana
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3417; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103417 - 25 Sep 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Urban and peri-urban forestry has emerged as a complementary measure to contribute towards eliminating urban hunger and improved nutritional security. However, there is scanty knowledge about the composition, diversity, and socioeconomic contributions of urban food trees in African cities. This paper examines the [...] Read more.
Urban and peri-urban forestry has emerged as a complementary measure to contribute towards eliminating urban hunger and improved nutritional security. However, there is scanty knowledge about the composition, diversity, and socioeconomic contributions of urban food trees in African cities. This paper examines the diversity and composition of the urban forest and food trees of Accra and sheds light on perceptions of urbanites regarding food tree cultivation and availability in the city. Using a mixed methods approach, 105 respondents in six neighborhoods of Accra were interviewed while over 200 plots (100-m2 each) were surveyed across five land use types. Twenty-two out of the 70 woody species in Accra have edible parts (leaves, fruits, flowers, etc.). The food-tree abundance in the city is about half of the total number of trees enumerated. The species richness and abundance of the food trees and all trees in the city were significantly different among land use types (p < 0.0001) and neighborhood types (p < 0.0001). The diversity of food-bearing tree species was much higher in the poorer neighborhoods than in the wealthier neighborhoods. Respondents in wealthier neighborhoods indicated that tree and food-tree cover of the city was generally low and showed greater interest in cultivating food (fruit) trees and expanding urban forest cover than poorer neighborhoods. These findings demonstrate the need for urban food policy reforms that integrate urban-grown tree foods in the urban food system/culture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Governance of the Bioeconomy: A Global Comparative Study of National Bioeconomy Strategies
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3190; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093190 - 06 Sep 2018
Cited by 18
Abstract
More than forty states worldwide currently pursue explicit political strategies to expand and promote their bioeconomies. This paper assesses these strategies in the context of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our theoretical framework differentiates between four pathways of bioeconomic developments. The extent [...] Read more.
More than forty states worldwide currently pursue explicit political strategies to expand and promote their bioeconomies. This paper assesses these strategies in the context of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our theoretical framework differentiates between four pathways of bioeconomic developments. The extent to which bioeconomic developments along these pathways lead to increased sustainability depends on the creation of effective governance mechanisms. We distinguish between enabling governance and constraining governance as the two fundamental political challenges in setting up an effective governance framework for a sustainable bioeconomy. Further, we lay out a taxonomy of political support measures (enabling governance) and regulatory tools (constraining governance) that states can use to confront these two political challenges. Guided by this theoretical framework, we conduct a qualitative content analysis of 41 national bioeconomy strategies to provide systematic answers to the question of how well designed the individual national bioeconomy strategies are to ensure the rise of a sustainable bioeconomy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Local Agroforestry Practices for Food and Nutrition Security of Smallholder Farm Households in Southwestern Ethiopia
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2722; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082722 - 02 Aug 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Food and nutrition security (FNS) rests on five pillars: availability, access, utilization, stability, and sovereignty. We assessed the potentials of local agroforestry practices (AFPs) for enabling FNS for smallholders in the Yayu Biosphere Reserve (southwestern Ethiopia). Data was collected from 300 households in [...] Read more.
Food and nutrition security (FNS) rests on five pillars: availability, access, utilization, stability, and sovereignty. We assessed the potentials of local agroforestry practices (AFPs) for enabling FNS for smallholders in the Yayu Biosphere Reserve (southwestern Ethiopia). Data was collected from 300 households in a stratified random sampling scheme through semi-structured interviews and farm inventory. Utility, edibility, and marketability value were the key parameters used to determine the potential of plants in the AFPs. Descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and correlation analysis were employed to determine the form, variation, and association of local AFP attributes. Homegarden, multistorey-coffee-system, and multipurpose-trees-on-farmlands are the predominant AFPs in Yayu. Multipurpose-trees-on-farmlands are used mainly for food production, multistorey-coffee-system for income-generation, and homegarden for both. The 127 useful plant species identified represent 10 major plant utility groups, with seven (food, fodder, fuel, coffee-shade, timber, non-timber-forest-products, and medicinal uses) found in all three AFPs. In total, 80 edible species were identified across all AFPs, with 55 being primarily cultivated for household food supply. Generally, household income emanates from four major sources, multistorey-coffee-system (60%), homegarden (18%), multipurpose-trees-on-farmlands (13%), and off-farm activities (11%). Given this variation in form, purpose, and extracted benefits, existing AFPs in Yayu support the FNS of smallholders in multiple ways. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainability Performance of National Bio-Economies
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2705; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082705 - 01 Aug 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
An increasing number of countries develop bio-economy strategies to promote a stronger reliance on the efficient use of renewable biological resources in order to meet multiple sustainability challenges. At the global scale, however, bio-economies are diverse, with sectors such as agriculture, forestry, energy, [...] Read more.
An increasing number of countries develop bio-economy strategies to promote a stronger reliance on the efficient use of renewable biological resources in order to meet multiple sustainability challenges. At the global scale, however, bio-economies are diverse, with sectors such as agriculture, forestry, energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, as well as science and education. In this study, we developed a typology of bio-economies based on country-specific characteristics, and describe five different bio-economy types with varying degrees of importance in the primary and the high-tech sector. We also matched the bio-economy types against the foci of their bio-economy strategies and evaluated their sustainability performance. Overall, high-tech bio-economies seem to be more diversified in terms of their policy strategies while the policies of those relying on the primary sector are focused on bioenergy and high-tech industries. In terms of sustainability performance, indicators suggest that diversified high-tech economies have experienced a slight sustainability improvement, especially in terms of resource consumption. Footprints remain, however, at the highest levels compared to all other bio-economy types with large amounts of resources and raw materials being imported from other countries. These results highlight the necessity of developed high-tech bio-economies to further decrease their environmental footprint domestically and internationally, and the importance of biotechnology innovation transfer after critical and comprehensive sustainability assessments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Biogas Potential of Coffee Processing Waste in Ethiopia
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2678; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082678 - 31 Jul 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Primary coffee processing is performed following the dry method or wet method. The dry method generates husk as a by-product, while the wet method generates pulp, parchment, mucilage, and waste water. In this study, characterization, as well as the potential of husk, pulp, [...] Read more.
Primary coffee processing is performed following the dry method or wet method. The dry method generates husk as a by-product, while the wet method generates pulp, parchment, mucilage, and waste water. In this study, characterization, as well as the potential of husk, pulp, parchment, and mucilage for methane production were examined in biochemical methane potential assays performed at 37 °C. Pulp, husk, and mucilage had similar cellulose contents (32%). The lignin contents in pulp and husk were 15.5% and 17.5%, respectively. Mucilage had the lowest hemicellulose (0.8%) and lignin (5%) contents. The parchment showed substantially higher lignin (32%) and neutral detergent fiber (96%) contents. The mean specific methane yields from husk, pulp, parchment, and mucilage were 159.4 ± 1.8, 244.7 ± 6.4, 31.1 ± 2.0, and 294.5 ± 9.6 L kg−1 VS, respectively. The anaerobic performance of parchment was very low, and therefore was found not to be suitable for anaerobic fermentation. It was estimated that, in Ethiopia, anaerobic digestion of husk, pulp, and mucilage could generate as much as 68 × 106 m3 methane per year, which could be converted to 238,000 MWh of electricity and 273,000 MWh of thermal energy in combined heat and power units. Coffee processing facilities can utilize both electricity and thermal energy for their own productive purposes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transdisciplinary Research: Collaborative Leadership and Empowerment Towards Sustainability of Push–Pull Technology
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2378; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072378 - 09 Jul 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
A transdisciplinary research approach requires that different scientists with their discipline-specific theories, concepts and methods find ways to work together with other societal players to address a real-life problem. In this study, the push–pull technology (PPT) was used as a boundary object to [...] Read more.
A transdisciplinary research approach requires that different scientists with their discipline-specific theories, concepts and methods find ways to work together with other societal players to address a real-life problem. In this study, the push–pull technology (PPT) was used as a boundary object to enable interactions among stakeholders across science-practice boundaries engaged in the control of stemborer pest in maize crops in Bako Tibe, Jimma Arjo and Yayu Woredas in Ethiopia between August 2014 and April 2015. The PPT is a biological mechanism developed by researchers for the control of stemborer pests and Striga weed in maize crop. It involves inter-cropping maize with a stemborer moth-repellent silverleaf or greenleaf Desmodium (push), and planting an attractive trap crop, Napier or Brachiaria grass (pull), around it. The on-farm implementation of PPT was used to provide an opportunity for collaboration, interaction and learning among stakeholders including researchers from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and practitioners from the Ministry of Agriculture and smallholder farmers/traders. The research was implemented following the transdisciplinary action research and the data collected using mixed methods approach, including key informant interviews, focus group discussions, workshops, on-farm practical demonstrations and participant observations. The findings show that collaborative leadership provides a chance for the stakeholders to participate in the technology learning and decision making, by enabling them to jointly contribute skills towards development, refinement and adaptation of the PPT. In situations where there are conflicts, they are embraced and converted to opportunities for in-depth learning, finding solutions and adaptation of the innovation processes rather than being sources of contradictions or misunderstandings. The leadership roles of the farmers enabled them to reflect on their own practices and draw on scientific explanations from researchers. It also enabled them to take the lead in new technology implementation and information sharing with fellow farmers and other stakeholders in a free and easy manner. Although the perennial nature of the companion crops in the PPT provides opportunities for continuous stakeholder interaction and learning, it requires a personally committed leadership and formal institutional engagements for the sustainability of the activities, which span several cropping seasons. Market forces and the involvement of the private sector also play a role as shown from the involvement of individual farmers and traders in Desmodium and Brachiaria seed production, collection and distribution during the PPT implementation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Socioeconomic Indicators of Bamboo Use for Agroforestry Development in the Dry Semi-Deciduous Forest Zone of Ghana
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2324; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072324 - 05 Jul 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bamboo agroforestry is currently being promoted in Ghana as a viable land use option to reduce dependence on natural forest for wood fuels. To align the design and introduction of bamboo agroforestry to the needs of farmers, information on the determinants of bamboo [...] Read more.
Bamboo agroforestry is currently being promoted in Ghana as a viable land use option to reduce dependence on natural forest for wood fuels. To align the design and introduction of bamboo agroforestry to the needs of farmers, information on the determinants of bamboo acceptability and adoption is necessary. It is, therefore, the aim of this study to determine how socioeconomic factors, local farming practices and local knowledge on bamboo may influence its acceptability and adoption as a component of local farming systems. Data were collected from 200 farmers in the dry semi-deciduous forest zone of Ghana using semi-structured questionnaire interviews. The results show that farmers’ traditional knowledge on bamboo including its use for charcoal production and leaves for fodder are influential determinants of bamboo adoption. Among the demographic characteristics of farmers, age and gender are the most significant predictors. It is also evident that the regular practice of leaving trees on farmlands and type of cropping system may influence bamboo integration into traditional farming systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Making Contract Farming Arrangements Work in Africa’s Bioeconomy: Evidence from Cassava Outgrower Schemes in Ghana
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1604; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051604 - 17 May 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
This paper uniquely focuses on rapidly-developing domestic value chains in Africa’s emerging bioeconomy. It uses a comparative case study approach of a public and private cassava outgrower scheme in Ghana to investigate which contract farming arrangements are sustainable for both farmers and agribusiness [...] Read more.
This paper uniquely focuses on rapidly-developing domestic value chains in Africa’s emerging bioeconomy. It uses a comparative case study approach of a public and private cassava outgrower scheme in Ghana to investigate which contract farming arrangements are sustainable for both farmers and agribusiness firms. A complementary combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is employed to assess the sustainability of these institutional arrangements. The results indicate that ad hoc or opportunistic investments that only address smallholders’ marketing challenges are not sufficient to ensure mutually beneficial and sustainable schemes. The results suggest that firms’ capacity and commitment to design contracts with embedded support services for outgrowers is essential to smallholder participation and the long-term viability of these arrangements. Public-private partnerships in outgrower schemes can present a viable option that harnesses the strengths of both sectors and overcomes their institutional weaknesses. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Applying a Sustainable Development Lens to Global Biomass Potentials
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 5078; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11185078 - 17 Sep 2019
Abstract
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, guide societies to achieve a better and more sustainable future. Depleting fossil fuels and climate change will strongly increase the demand for biomass, as governments shift towards bioeconomies. Though research [...] Read more.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, guide societies to achieve a better and more sustainable future. Depleting fossil fuels and climate change will strongly increase the demand for biomass, as governments shift towards bioeconomies. Though research has estimated future biomass availability for bioenergetic uses, the implications for sustainable development have hardly been discussed; e.g., how far the estimates account for food security, sustainability and the satisfaction of basic human needs, and what this implies for intragenerational equity. This research addresses the gap through a systematic literature review and our own modeling. It shows that the biomass models insufficiently account for food security; e.g., by modeling future food consumption below current levels. The available biomass, if fairly distributed, can globally replace fossil fuels required for future material needs but hardly any additional energy needs. To satisfy basic human needs, the material use of biomass should, therefore, be prioritized over bioenergy. The different possibilities for biomass allocation and distribution need to be analyzed for their potential negative implications, especially for the poorer regions of the world. Research, society, business and politicians have to address those to ensure the ’leave no one behind´ commitment of the SDGs. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Comparing Characteristics of Root, Flour and Starch of Biofortified Yellow-Flesh and White-Flesh Cassava Variants, and Sustainability Considerations: A Review
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3089; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093089 - 30 Aug 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Cassava is a significant food security and industrial crop, contributing as food, feed and industrial biomass in Africa, Asia and South America. Breeding efforts have led to the development of cassava variants having desirable traits such as increased root, flour, and starch yield, [...] Read more.
Cassava is a significant food security and industrial crop, contributing as food, feed and industrial biomass in Africa, Asia and South America. Breeding efforts have led to the development of cassava variants having desirable traits such as increased root, flour, and starch yield, reduced toxicity, reduced pest/disease susceptibility and improved nutrient contents. Prominent among those breeding efforts is the development of colored-flesh cassava variants, especially biofortified yellow-fleshed ones, with increased pro-vitamin A carotenoids, compared to the white-flesh variants. The concept of sustainability in adoption of biofortified yellow-flesh cassava and its products cannot be fully grasped without some detailed information on its properties and how these variants compare to those of the white-flesh cassava. Flour and starch are highly profitable food products derived from cassava. Cassava roots can be visually distinguished based on flesh color and other physical properties, just as their flours and starches can be differentiated by their macro- and micro-properties. The few subtle differences that exist between cassava variants are identified and exploited by consumers and industry. Although white-flesh variants are still widely cultivated, value addition offered by biofortified yellow-flesh variants may strengthen acceptance and widespread cultivation among farmers, and, possibly, cultivation of biofortified yellow-flesh variants may outpace that of white-flesh variants in the future. This review compares properties of cassava root, flour, and starch from white-flesh and biofortified yellow-flesh variants. It also states the factors affecting the chemical, functional, and physicochemical properties; relationships between the physicochemical and functional properties; effects of processing on the nutritional properties; and practical considerations for sustaining adoption of the biofortified yellow-flesh cassava. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessCase Report
Biomass-Based Innovations in Demand Driven Research and Development Projects in Africa
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2639; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082639 - 27 Jul 2018
Abstract
The case for demand-driven research and development has received important considerations among governments, donors and programme implementing partners in development planning and implementation. Addressing demand is believed to be a bottom-top approach for designing and responding to development priorities and is good for [...] Read more.
The case for demand-driven research and development has received important considerations among governments, donors and programme implementing partners in development planning and implementation. Addressing demand is believed to be a bottom-top approach for designing and responding to development priorities and is good for achieving development outcomes. In this paper, we discuss the concept and application of demand-driven research and development (DDRD) in Africa. We use evidence of six projects implemented under the BiomassWeb Project in Africa. We focus on parameters on level of engagement of stakeholders—whose demand is being articulated, the processes for demand articulation, capacity building and implementation processes, innovativeness of the project, reporting and sustainability of the project. We find that the nature of the institutions involved in articulation and implementation of demand-driven research and development projects and their partnerships influence the impact and reporting of demand-driven projects. Full article
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