As if out of nowhere, we descended on their remote village under a lush canopy of bamboo and tropical fruit trees. We came to inspect their operation, assess their labour practices, and offer training on the use of our digital MRV (Monitoring, Reporting, and Verifying) tools, so they could produce a new revenue stream from a mysterious commodity known as carbon credits.
And they welcomed us like royalty. Whether we huddled around the picnic tables and feasted on bamboo shoot curry, or gathered around the roaring flame of the kiln to examine their biomass moisture and their pyrolysis techniques, we were always greeted and accepted with openness and sincerity.
Our participation in the project and our ability to link them to the international carbon credit system were clearly very important, but the collaboration went much deeper than that. With every small step we took to refine their processes, we worked together, and we shared the sense of success. Every improvement was a victory in which the whole team felt pride and satisfaction. And we all felt like members of a single team, coming together on a level playing field.
This sense of equality was also evident in the representation of women throughout the project. At every level of the organization — executive, managerial, and kiln operation — women play a key role. Nui, a co-founder of WongPhai, manages the books, while Wanphen owns the land where the project is based and actively oversees the daily operations. At the same time, she runs a small convenient store at the front of the property. Wanphen’s daughter, Naht, is also a member of the crew, and she was especially vocal about the importance of the project for the community, and how it allows her to stay here in the countryside with her mother instead of moving to Bangkok to look for work.
By the time we left, it was with a small trace of sadness. They had fully embraced us a part of their family, despite the obvious language barrier and the wide cultural chasm. But together we had participated in something universal, transcending these mundane boundaries, eating, drinking, working and perspiring in a tight-knit community, driven by a shared purpose.
Sometimes it feels incredibly difficult to explain what we do and how we generate carbon removal credits by turning agricultural waste into biochar, and why. But then there are times when words are unnecessary, and we simply know, from looking at the smiling faces around the barbecue, that we are doing the right thing.
To learn more about how Planboo operates and enable biochar projects throughout the tropics, take a look at some of these related articles and videos.