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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

UNIZIK students turn waste to wealth

Entrepreneurship by Nnamdi Azikiwe University students
Treatment of polythene
This is an encouraging report from my Alma Mater. I learnt that that some students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka have adopted innovative measures that enables them to turn waste, or better still call it trash, into wealth. If well nurtured, this will at least go a long way in ameliorating the challenge of graduate unemployment in the country as well as help rid the streets of dirt.

According to the Daily Sun’s report, the students via their research have discovered an inventive means of creating thousands of agricultural jobs from waste polythene. See the full gist after the cut…

A research team led by Ezenekwe Elochukwu, a student of Agricultural and Bio-resources Engineering, made the amazing discovery, on how to recycle abundant polythene wastes, common in landfills and streets of cities in the country for money. Elochukwu said the project would also clean up the heaps of polythene found on street corners, where they cause environmental pollution and flooding.

According to him, the use of greenhouse structures in crop production would offer several benefits that range from increased yield to more efficient water utilization, less use of harmful chemicals, year-round farming and protection from adverse climatic conditions.

“But such structures are not utilized by farmers in the country due to the fact that conventional greenhouses in the country are made of glass covering and steel framework, which make them very expensive and out of the reach of local farmers. In reality, the very few greenhouses in the country are largely restricted to research centres, where they are usually used for purposes other than crop production,” he said.
The research team, known as Peace Advocacy and Sustainable Development Outreach (PASDO) and another group, BENUWATTS, are working jointly to develop suitable low-tech greenhouse structures by sourcing and using locally available and affordable materials in place of the steel frame and glass covering used in conventional structures.
As an alternative to glass, Elochukwu and his team have developed cheaper and more flexible material, which incorporates considerable percentage of waste polythene in the production process [whilst still exhibiting UV-blocking properties and acceptable levels of Photosythetic Active Radiation (PAR) – the actual wavelength range of solar radiation responsible for plant growth]
The research findings, in addition to helping to curb greenhouse emissions from the usual burning of polythene wastes, would likely lead to a revolution in the vegetable and horticulture industry, and thousands of jobs for the youthful population of Nigeria who can be empowered with affordable Greenhouse Kits to enable them engage in horticulture and fresh-produce farming.
For proper sponsorship and execution of the three-year-research work, the two organisations have jointly formed the Greenhouse Agriculture Coalition to ensure that the research findings did not end up only in classrooms and research labs.
It was also gathered that Benuwatts Company would begin local manufacture of greenhouse kits. “The kits will be quite affordable, and shall comprise of the greenhouse structure, water tank and irrigation system, improved seedlings, and one year free customer support,” a member of the group told Campus Sun.
It is estimated that the process involved – from waste collection through to the treatment, manufacture and usage of the kits, and even up to export – could engage over a hundred thousand direct and indirect workers across the country.

Credit: sunnewsonline.com 

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