BiomassWeb - Improving food security in Africa through increased system productivity of biomass-based value webs


biomass, food security, bioeconomy, biomass-based value webs, biomass network


Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria


Increasing global demand for food, but also for feed and biomass-based raw materials, e.g. fuel and fiber crops, has increased pressure on the agricultural sector and food production in the past decade, especially in Africa. Concepts to increase food security while attending growing demands for non-food biomass and developing alternative biomass sources are still in their infant stages.

BiomassWeb aims therefore at contributing to food security in Sub-Saharan Africa by focusing on biomass-based value webs. Biomass-based value webs are complex systems of interlinked value chains in which food and fodder, fuels, and other raw materials are produced, processed and traded.

BiomassWeb addresses the three pillars of food security, i.e. food availability, through enhanced biomass productivity; access to food, through income generation from non-food biomass production, processing and trading; and use of food, through increasing nutritional quality. BiomassWeb expects to contribute to enhancing the capacity of Africa to participate in the emerging regional and international bioeconomy.


The project will focus on the productive Sudanian savanna belt (Ghana, Nigeria) and the East African highlands (Ethiopia). Analysis will be on a systems level but specific, exemplary ‘model’ value webs will be studied based on cassava, maize, banana/plantain/enset and biomass derived from natural vegetation and agroforestry systems. These case studies allow investigating in detail the local, regional and international flows and trade of biomass and derived products.

The 5-year BiomassWeb research program comprises 24 work packages organized into 7 research clusters. Project output consists of scientific knowledge generation and capacity development in three forms: (1) Specific recommendations for the crops and countries that are being studied as ‘model’ webs; (2) a framework of methods and tools to address future biomass challenges and a group of regional biomass resource experts trained in applying and expanding the tools (forming a “living toolbox”); and (3) a pan-African network (“Biomass Network”) of biomass experts (scientists) and actors in Sub-Saharan Africa's biomass sector as a stakeholder platform for biomass-related discussions and activities in SSA, focusing on the coming decades.

Main Cooperation Partners

Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

Universität Hohenheim

Forschungszentrum Jülich

Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Accra, Ghana
International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya
University of Cape Coast (UCC), Cape Coast, Ghana
Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) West Africa Regional Office, Kumasi, Ghana und East Africa Regional Office, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
Pan-African University of the African Union (PAU-AU)
Horticultural Research Institute of Nigeria (NIHORT) , Ibadan, Nigeria
Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-REC/N), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Economic Association/Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute (EEA/EEPRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Main Funding Partners

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Duration of the Project

2013-2016 and 2016-2018

Project Homepage

at ZEF:


Manfred Denich

Dr. Manfred Denich