Environmental Assessment of Integrated Food and Cooking Fuel Production for a Village in Ghana

Andreas Kamp, Hanne Østergård, Simon Bolwig

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

351 Downloads (Pure)


Small-scale farming in Ghana is typically associated with synthetic fertilizer dependence and soil degradation. The farmers often rely on wood fuel for cooking imported from outside the farmland, a practice that is associated with deforestation. Integration of food and energy production may be a holistic approach to solving these issues. We study four approaches to providing food and fuel for cooking in a small-scale farming community. Present practice (PP) of synthetic fertilizer based food production and provision of wood fuel from outside the farming area is compared to three modeled, integrated technology options: integrated food and household-scale biogas production (HH Biogas), integrated food and village-scale biogas production (Village Biogas), and integrated food and wood fuel production (Agroforestry). Integrated approaches are able to eliminate the import of wood fuel, reduce synthetic fertilizer use by 24%, 35% and 44% and soil loss by 15%, 20%and 87%, respectively, compared to present practice. An Emergy Assessment (EmA) shows that integrated approaches are relevant substitutes to present practice considering biophysical efficiency indicated by Unit Emergy Value (in solar emjoules (sej) per J of output) and dependence on renewable inputs indicated by the Global Renewability Fraction (in %): 2.6–3.0 × 105 sej/J and 38%–48% (PP), 2.5–2.8 × 105 sej/J and 41%–46% (HH Biogas), 2.4–2.6 × 105 sej/J and 45%–47% (Village Biogas),1.7–2.4 × 105 sej/J and 49%–66% (Agroforestry). Systematic recycling and use of local resources may play a pivotal role in reducing the dependence on non-renewable resources in Ghanaian farming,ensuring long-term soil fertility and stemming the current deforestation of wood reserves.
Original languageEnglish
Article number404
Issue number5
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Biogas
  • Agroforestry
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Transition
  • Sustainable development
  • Emergy
  • Ghana
  • Case study


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental Assessment of Integrated Food and Cooking Fuel Production for a Village in Ghana'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this