Wednesday 8 November 2017

Kenyan Policy Makers Dialogue on Gender and Social Inclusion in the Climate-Smart Agriculture Strategy: Linking International and National Policy

By Catherine Mungai and Caroline Bosire, from the International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya
Cohort 1 and Cohort 3 (resp.) CIRCLE Visiting Fellows

Kenya has made great headway in developing policies and strategies to respond to climate change across different sectors; most notably in agriculture. The agricultural sector is the driving force of Kenya’s economy and is also one of the sectors most sensitive to the impacts of climate change. The agricultural sector has been identified as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, therefore necessitating the identification of measures through which the sector can mitigate climate change. Introduced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is one such approach which aims to sustainably improve agricultural productivity, increase farmers’ resilience, reduce and/or remove greenhouse gas emissions, and support the achievement of food-security and development goals. To this end, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya has developed a CSA Strategy which will guide the implementation of the country's Nationally Determined Contribution for the agriculture sector.  

Catherine Mungai (CIRCLE Cohort 1 fellow) presents her results to policy makers for their input and feedback

Having received Research Uptake funding from CIRCLE, CIRCLE Cohort 1 Fellow Catherine Mungai organised an informative session where she shared findings from her CIRCLE funded research: ‘Uptake of Climate-Smart Agriculture Through a Gendered Intersectionality Lens: Experiences from Western Kenya. The meeting was held at the National Climate Change Resource Centre (NCCRC) and was organized together with the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) and the Climate Change Directorate in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR). Having NGEC on board was essential as the mission of the commission is to effectively and efficiently promote gender equality and freedom from discrimination of all persons in Kenya. The commission also spearheads the development of the gender submissions for Kenya to the UNFCCC and ensures that gender is mainstreamed from national to county level. Thirty participants including policy makers from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, researchers from the CGIAR and NGO representatives participated in the meeting.

For policy makers, the results of the study demonstrate the need to consider gender and social inclusion in the development and implementation of CSA policies and programmes in order to ensure equitable development. The study provides evidence on why policy development and implementation agencies need to ensure that gender issues are addressed from conception of policies through to implementation. The presentation was timely and instrumental in supporting the development of action plans for the implementation of CSA at national and county level. Mungai’s research findings emphasize the need for context specific CSA technologies and practices which take into consideration social and cultural factors. The presentation was also tailored to generate feedback to be used in developing a policy brief.

Participants at the policy round table held at the National Climate Change Resource Center, Nairobi, Kenya 

There was great interest in the work and very valuable feedback from the various participants. One important message that came across was the need to clearly target the policy brief recommendations to either the policy makers at the national level or the implementers at the lower levels, which would include the county government and other institutions. The meeting also included discussions on preparation of a national gender position statement for the upcoming 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 23) to be held in Bonn from 6 to 17 November. The presentation therefore served as a case study to demonstrate the scope of policy development from global, regional, national and local levels. The case study also demonstrated how research can be integrated into the policy process.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

CIRCLE at the ACU Developing the Next Generation of Researchers workshop

By Verity Buckley - CIRCLE Programme Officer

In July 2017, I attended the ACUs Developing the Next Generation of Researchers workshop. Hosted by the University of Lagos, the workshop explored innovative approaches to academic mentoring and career development for emerging researchers. I was not only looking forward to the content of the event, but also the opportunity to meet with some of the CIRCLE Visiting Fellows (CVFs) who were helping to facilitate the programme. Eight CVFs were scheduled to deliver sessions on areas such as mentoring, research cooperation, professional development and the role of the researcher in a global research environment. The CVFs were well suited to deliver these sessions, having made substantial achievements and progress in their careers since completing their CIRCLE fellowship, despite facing a number of challenges.

The CIRCLE Fellows and NextGen Organising Committee

Researchers face a range of obstacles throughout their careers, particularly during the early stages. The importance of immediately taking responsibility for one’s own development was highlighted throughout the workshop – solely relying on an institution to provide opportunities can be risky and participants were encouraged to look for other ways of building their experience. Their contribution to the wider “research effort” was discussed, as well as the importance of considering the impact that research can have on local and global issues. It was stressed that researchers must view themselves as part of a wider international research movement.

The establishment of a Professional Development Plan (PDP) can be a critical step in continuous professional development. Commitment to an action plan helps the researcher to progress, and the creation of milestones and goals can help them to keep track of their progress. As well as advice on attitudes and personal development, the use of constructive tools and approaches to the PDP were explored, including the importance of writing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound) objectives and finding ways of providing evidence to demonstrate progress.

Prof. Ogundipe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics & Research) addressing participants

Many academics ultimately strive to become effective researchers and global leaders in their field. During the workshop, participants proposed and discussed various tactics that would help the researcher towards professional leadership. These included research uptake, mobile research and utilisation of technology and communication for networking and dissemination, as well as the importance of learning from role models within the workplace and wider academic fields. Role models can come in many forms, but within the academic research environment these are most likely to appear in the form of mentors. Researchers may find that they take on the role as mentor, as well as mentee. During the workshop, the CVFs offered personal anecdotes on their experiences as mentors, as well as professional tips and advice. Utilising the experiences of mentors could be critical in planning career development within an institution. Senior members of staff and personal managers could potentially give advice and support to their mentees, providing important guidance in seeking promotion or research opportunities.

CIRCLE Fellow Catherine Nnamani delivers a session

Nevertheless, finding time for development opportunities amidst a heavy workload within a research department can be difficult, especially for those who take on more administrative and teaching responsibilities at growing or overstretched institutions. The CVFs had ample experience as both mentees and mentors, and facilitated excellent discussions. The various debates that arose during the workshops were very thought provoking, but specific issues were highlighted as being particularly acute in Nigeria such as the lack of international networks and opportunities for collaboration and the growth of younger institutions struggling to build the capacity of their overstretched members of staff. Each participant had their own unique experience to contribute, and their innovative ways of overcoming their obstacles were inspirational for all that attended.

After an intensive 3 days, the workshop drew to a close. Not only had the participants developed tools to further establish their academic careers, but they had managed to create networks and potential routes through to future collaboration. As the participants filed out of the lecture hall, the atmosphere was bubbling over with anticipation (and not only due to the tea and biscuits that were waiting outside).

It was a pleasure to attend the workshop, and a wonderful opportunity to meet the CVFs and workshop participants. Make sure you keep an eye on the blog as we will be featuring CVFs profiles in the following posts.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

CIRCLE Institutional Case Study: MOUAU

By  Prof. Phillippa Ojimelukwe, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU), Nigeria

When I saw the advertisement for the CIRCLE programme, I had little confidence that we would succeed in becoming a Home institution. I was uncertain we would be able to compete favourably with other well-established institutions; I also thought that the funders would be sceptical of lesser known institutions. Thankfully my fears were unfounded and the CIRCLE programme has been a revolutionary experience for Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Nigeria. We have benefitted both from the fellowship programme (with four fellows selected from MOUA) and the Institutional Strengthening Programme (ISP).  

The ISP has been transformative for our institution. We started with a detailed analysis of our institutional gaps and weaknesses. We aligned this with our university’s mandate - to lead the frontiers of research in agriculture for national development in a sustainable manner and to train highly rated graduates in agricultural disciplines equipped with entrepreneurship skills. 

The gap analysis was a real “eye opener” for us and helped us to identify and prioritise a number of areas that we wanted to address. We prioritised our needs and focused on the following areas for our action plan:
  • Developing an induction programme for new staff;
  • Creating a formal researcher's forum;
  • Improving the structure of our career development and continuing professional development frameworks;
  • Developing line management and research management training for research managers in the university;
  • Creating a formal mentoring programme;
  • Establishing a work ethics and a research ethics committee;
  • Improving poor connectivity and low bandwidth;
  • Developing a Researcher Development Framework (RDF) lens, to establish priorities for researcher support within our institution.
Induction programme banner

We formulated our action plan and started working with the university management to implement the actions. Despite financial constraints, we have been able to successfully implement a number of initiatives. In October 2016 we conducted a maiden induction of new staff at the university with the generous support of university management. The Directorate of Research instituted a formal mentoring scheme in September, 2015 and is monitoring publications (PUB); work life balance (W/L); attendance to training and conferences (C/T); efforts at writing of proposals (PRO); and personal improvement (PI) of the mentees. A major source of challenge to the mentees is frustrations over unsuccessful attempts at proposals, publications, conference and training grants as well as poor internet access. Another key challenge is establishing a healthy work-life balance. This scheme has been made sustainable because at each monitoring date, new mentors and mentees are recruited. New mentees establish their own “purpose road map” and are familiarised with the Researcher Development framework as a tool to help them navigate their career pathway. During a meeting held in May 2017, mentees agreed to hold monthly meetings to improve their use of the RDF planner, learn about new scientific skills and opportunities and discuss their professional development. These monthly meetings will seek to maintain the momentum of career and professional development for the early career researchers in the university. 

Induction registration

Staff induction

Staff induction

Other aspects of the ISP were integrated into a policy document endorsed by a specially convened council committee of professors and presented to the senate.  The senate has studied and adopted this paper and we are set for its implementation. In addition to the induction and mentoring programmes we have carved out a career development unit and a human resource unit from the existing registry. Personnel in the registry have received training in the functions of HR management and career development. In the longer-term we plan to develop a fully-fledged Human Resource and Career Development Centre. The university has also established a work ethics committee and a Directorate of Research, which is expected to raise a memo on the constitution of a university Research Ethics Committee.  Although funding remains a daunting challenge, we continue to make efforts in-house to progress with a worthwhile objective. 

All of our efforts have been assisted by the input of CIRCLE through their series of online webinars, dedicated consultancy, networking activities and, critically, through the workshops, which have provided enormous capacity building support to senior staff at MOUAU. At the most recent workshop for mentors and supervisors we used the sessions with John Morton to identify research gaps in the field of climate change as well as ways of more effectively conducting research into climate change through inter-disciplinary research teams. There were also some enlightening discussions around dissemination and uptake of research through publication and engagement with stakeholder and policy-makers. The Vitae led sessions of the workshop focussed more on the skills needed to develop and nurture the next generation of researchers. Various dimensions were covered from effective proposal-writing skills to good practice in supervision and mentoring, we also had some session on how to use the RDF to build Researcher Development plans and conduct a research environment audit to examine and shape the organisational culture in place to empower researchers.  

Monthly RDF meetings

The experience of participating in CIRCLE has been an effective and systematic capacity building mechanism to incorporate global best practices into our institutions. Our unreserved thanks to DFID, ACU, AAS, Greenwich University and VITAE!

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Residue Retention Practises for Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change Mitigation in Ghana.

By Dr. (Mrs.) Owoade, Folasade Mary, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria.

Host Institution: Department of Soil Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

The relationship between climate change and soil carbon resources is of key concern to human society. The adverse effect of climatic warming on the global soil environment has emerged and aroused extensive attention in the world. Soils are intricately linked to the atmospheric–climate system through the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic cycles. Altered climate will therefore have an effect on soil processes and properties, and at the same time, the soils themselves will have an effect on climate. With proper management, soils have the potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Soil’s usefulness as a carbon sink and drawdown solution is essential, based on global estimates of historic carbon stocks and projections of rising emissions. To ensure safe levels of atmospheric carbon, and to mitigate climate change, efforts to sequester carbon will be necessary.

Residue retention practices for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. 

Land use conversion and agricultural activities have been reported to both directly and indirectly produce 30% of total anthropogenic emissions. Therefore, conversion to a restorative land use and adoption of best management practices must be integral to any strategy of mitigating climate change. In Ghana and Africa at large, many households depend on land for their livelihoods, mostly through agriculture. Research has shown that low soil fertility is often the major constraint to crop production. Crop residues are not only a primary substrate for the replenishment of soil organic matter, but they also serve as an important source of plant nutrients. Crop residues play important roles in nutrient recycling, erosion control, and the maintenance of soil physical and chemical properties when left in the field after harvest. Many possibilities for using crop residues are ignored by farmers and not many attempt to recover from the field, store and improve the quality of these valuable resources.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade interviewing a female maize farmer at Kotokoli village, Yilo Krobo, Eastern Region, Ghana.

Against the above background, this study attempts to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are the management requirements to replenish the carbon stocks of the soil in Greater Accra and Eastern regions of Ghana?
  • What is the socio-economic framework within which small-scale land users could be encouraged to participate in soil carbon sequestration schemes for climate change mitigation in the area?

The carbon sequestration potential of tropical land use systems has been a subject of interest over the last decade. Estimation by the IPCC shows that a tropical forest holds about 135 t CO2e / ha in the vegetative biomass and 138 t CO2e / ha in the soil to a depth of 1m. In the case of tropical savannah, biomass carbon and soil carbon constitutes 33 and 130 t/ ha respectively. However, rapid biomass carbon loss occurs in the tropics, due to deforestation and vegetation burning. Since the turn of the last century, Africa has lost about 85% of its original forest. Nigeria has lost 4% of its forest per year while Ghana has lost 2% per year. This loss constitutes not only a loss of the photosynthetic carbon sink but also burning releases the biomas CO2 back into atmosphere. Soil degradation, also results in large CO2 emissions. Soil degradation is rapid in the tropics due to high temperature and adequate soil moisture conditions. Estimates of soil carbon storage and losses are limited in the humid and semi- humid zones of Nigeria and Ghana. Furthermore, the potential for carbon storage, loss and replenishment would depend on factors such as soil texture, residue management, land use and cropping practices among others.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade educating farmers on residue retention for carbon sequestration in Asesewa, Upper Manya, Eastern Region, Ghana

Residue retention practices of some farmers (plantations and orchards, forests, maize and cassava farmers) with different tillage and soil management practices in Greater Accra and Eastern regions of Ghana were examined and sought to assess their willingness to adopt residue retention practices.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade interviewing farmers before soil sampling at New Somanya, Yilo Krobo, Eastern Region, Ghana

Farmers, representing a general population sample of the Greater Accra and Eastern regions of Ghana were interviewed and soil samples collected from their farms. The survey asked a representative sample about their socio-economic characteristics, physiography, soil management practices, residue retention practices, and their willingness to participate in activities that would curb global warming.

About 30% of the respondents use inorganic fertilizer, 5% use manure, but the most common tillage practice among the farmers is slash and burn. The majority of the respondents believe that residue retention practices will increase their production cost and labour and therefore need government support to adopt any residue retention practices for climate mitigation purposes. Only 20% are willing to adopt this practice free of charge while 80% were willing if only there is external funding and until they see the benefits.
Small–scale land users should be encouraged to participate in soil carbon sequestration schemes for climate change mitigation. Stakeholders, policy makers, NGO’s and decision makers should design and implement the most feasible, cost effective and beneficial technique for exploration and possible adoption in the future. It is evident that farmers need enlightment and government support for a residue retention programme in Ghana.

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade with extension officers at Deidenma-Pokuase, Ga-West Municipal, Greater Accra, Ghana

Dr. (Mrs) Owoade, with Extension Officer, Research  and some farmers in Asesewa, Upper Manya, Eastern Region.

Monday 5 June 2017

Research Uptake Discourse on Women, Entrepreneurship Development and Climate Change

By Dr Catherine Akinbami, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

In order to have a holistic approach, the economic, social and environmental issues which are interdependent aspects of a society must be considered within a unified framework so as to promote human welfare, especially in the rural areas. The consideration of the social dimension of climate change is important in order to ensure that human rights are not compromised as climate change impacts the fundamental security, lives, health and livelihoods of people, especially the most vulnerable. Also, greater consideration of the social dimension can enhance the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation as well as the policies needed to drive them.  

Dr Akinbami in front of the event banner

On the 20th of April, stakeholders gathered at the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Nigeria for a Policy Discourse on women, entrepreneurship development and climate change. The stakeholders comprised of policy makers from ministries (such as Women Affairs, Environment and Habitat, Agriculture and Natural Resources) working directly with women, scholars from academia, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), media practitioners and community leaders. The policy discourse was a means to disseminate my CIRCLE research findings to the policy makers and intimate them on the challenges facing the rural women livelihoods as a result of the impact of climate change, possible entrepreneurship options in climate change, challenges and the adaptive strategies to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the women in rural areas. The event was an avenue to bring together policy makers and researchers in understanding the need for synergy. It also helped to present reality of the rural women to the policy maker as their livelihoods are being affected by climate change, in order to make them start taking necessary steps in addressing the problems.

Panellists during the discussion session

Participants at the event

The Keynote address titled ‘Bridging the Gap between Research and the Policy-making Process’ was delivered by a seasoned scientist, climate change expert, who is a fellow of the  Nigerian Academy of Science and a Pro-chancellor of a Private University in Nigeria, Prof, A.M.A. Imevbore; Prof (Mrs) J.E. Olawoye’s (Department of Rural Sociology, UI - My supervisor) presentation on ‘Women Development and Climate Change: Adaptation Strategies’ was delivered by Prof (Mrs) E.T. Owoaje, (Department of Community Health, UI) who also chaired the panel discussion. The programme was anchored by a climate change and energy management expert, Prof. J-F.K. Akinbami. Other distinguished participants came from the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Environment and Habitat; various NGOs, representatives from local government. Altogether, 32 participants were in attendance, including some students.
The round table discussions focused on the following questions:
  • What NGOs can do to assist in this era of climate change to aid women’s aclimitization
  • What can be done in term of modification?
  • What can be done about using hybrid seeds especially for women in primary production?
  • Based on the research discourse, what can be adopted; and how can gender issues be addressed based on climate change?
  • The next steps the researcher will take to actually affect the lives of the rural women
The keynote speaker also brought out reasons why the relationship between policy and research is not working out.

Why is Research Ignored?
According to Stone, research is often ignored because of the following reasons:
  • inadequate supply of, and access to, relevant information
  • researchers’ poor comprehension of policy process and unrealistic recommendations
  • ineffective communication of research
  • ignorance or anti-intellectualism of politicians or bureaucrats
  • inadequate capacity among policy makers
  • politicisation of research, using it selectively to legitimise decisions
  • gaps in understanding between researchers, policy makers and public
  • time lag between dissemination of research and impact on policy

Other key points raised during the course of the event included:

  • ‘It is a wonderful topic that concerns all of us, as it is going to be of benefits especially to us, the policy makers’. -  Chairman  Opening speech
  • ‘The facilitators in this forum will enlighten and broaden our minds on the issue that the researcher has researched into and it will remind us (policy makers) the need to do something fast so that the women who are in the vulnerable group would be helped’. - Chairman Opening speech
  • ‘This programme is timely and in the right direction. The Ministry has been looking for who to help the women in the field of climate change’. Chairman
  • ‘Women are more in farming, but the challenges are enormous.  As a matter of fact, the women appear to be on their own with no institutional or government support’. NGO Representative
  • ‘It must be noted that research must be aimed at improving the Human Development Index (HDI) if not it will remain purely an academic exercise’. Keynote speaker
A fact sheet on Women, Entrepreneurship Development and Climate Change was developed in both English and Yoruba languages and a radio presentation on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Amuludun FM 99.1) was also made in Yoruba language which is the indigenous language of the study areas. The purpose was to create awareness about the impact of climate change and educate women in general, and rural women in particular, about the challenges and entrepreneurship opportunities in climate change impact.

A major follow-on activity under development from the discussions is for the women in the communities to initiate a kick-off project which is climate smart. This will open and expose the women to the opportunities in climate change challenges and the use of resources around them. The project will also accommodate provision of some equipment that will assist to practice livelihoods in an ecofriendly manner and training which will be an avenue to train on the use of the equipment, hybrid seedlings and other entrepreneurship options. Outcome of the proposed project: help to engage the women more in various entrepreneurial activities; reducing their idle moments and poverty rate. Above all, this proposed ‘Research Uptake Climate Entrepreneurship Project’ will be a model for policy makers to adopt in rural areas.

I use this medium to acknowledge the Department for International Development (DfID) and Association of commonwealth Universities (ACU) under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) programme for funding and necessary support.

For further details on the discussions that took place during the event or the proposed follow-on project, please contact Dr Akinbami at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.

Friday 3 March 2017

3CGS organizes Researcher-Practitioner Symposium

By Mrs. Mercy Afua Adutwumwaa Derkyi (PhD), Centre for Climate Change and Gender Studies (3CGS), University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR)

After weeks of planning, phone calls, dispatching letters and making follow-ups; the dust finally settled and the much talked about symposium which happened to be the first of its kind in the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) saw the light of day on Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017.

Symposium Objectives
The symposium formed part of series of activities to be carried out under the Climate Impact Research Leadership and Capacity Enhancement (CIRCLE)’s UPTAKE PROJECT ‘Sharing and co-creation of knowledge on climate change adaptation among agrarian communities in the Transitional and Savannah vegetation zones of Ghana’ with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID).

The symposium sought to discuss findings from earlier research on Gender, Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity of Agrarian and Forest Dependent Communities in the Transitional Zone. Furthermore, it discussed the challenges, success stories and best practices of farmers in respect of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the Transitional and Savannah Zones of Ghana.

Participants were drawn from the Savannah and Transitional zones of Ghana. Representatives included District/Municipal Directors of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Extension officers/agents of MoFA and farmers from Kintampo North, Offinso North, Sunyani West, Tolon-Kumbugu, Wa West Districts, Berekum and Bolgatanga Municipals. Experts from the Ghana Meteorology Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency in the Sunyani Municipality were also present. In all, 57 people participated in the programme excluding the students.

Summary of activities
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Harrison Kwame Dapaah welcomed the participants. He stressed the need for academia to foster productive collaborations with practitioners in order to promote sustainable development. He also congratulated the Centre for Climate Change and Gender Studies (3CGS) team for their efforts in spearheading this initiative and also appreciated the contributions of CIRCLE programme to the capacity building of staff and fostering the collaboration between researchers and practitioners through this Uptake programme.   Dr. (Mrs.) Mercy A. A. Derkyi, CIRCLE 2015 Fellow, took her turn to highlight the findings and opened the floor for contributions from the participants.

Dr. (Mrs.) Mercy A. A. Derkyi

The representative of the Forestry Commission presented on the role that the FC is playing in adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change through the Ghana Forest Investment Program (GFIP). The representatives of the various Districts and Municipalities took turns to give presentations on the challenges that each faced with respect to Climate Change and the various adaptation and mitigation measures they put in place. The challenges and interventions were thoroughly discussed in a level headed manner in order to facilitate knowledge sharing and also set the tone for future projects.

The participants were fired with enthusiasm. In order to enrich the learning experience, some farmers were interviewed and allowed to share their thoughts and make contributions. Participants from each District drafted a ‘way forward’ guide in respect of interventions and activities which could help in Climate Change mitigation and adaptation in their districts.

Way forward
With the established networks, selected farmers and the MoFA staff from the transition zone, as well as selected agriculture students at the school of Agriculture and Technology of UENR, will visit Upper West Region in March 2017 to have hands-on experiences of the adaptation strategies available in the field. Further follow on activities include:
  • Develop a documentary on the uptake program
  • Design a simple manual on adaptation strategies for farmers
  • Organize training workshops for farmers in the transitional zone
  • Based on the action plans developed by the respective districts, 3CGs will facilitate an action research proposal for transitional-savannah climate-smart agriculture project.

We are grateful to the funding from the Department for International Development (DfID) under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) programme.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Impact of Renewable Technology on Lignocellulosic Material of Palm Fruit Fibre and Physic nut Shell for Energy and Chemical Productions: Strategy for Climate Change and Adaptation

By Dr.  Tawakalitu Bola Onifade, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
Cohort 2 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

This fellowship has greatly improved my intellectual development and capacity building as well as provided opportunities for collaboration and networking. CIRCLE has done me a great favour by making the program my first international research experience. The workshop/training organized by CIRCLE between 10 and 13th February, 2016 was very educative, motivating and a stepping stone to help prepare me for my research. I then arrived in Kenya to commence the CIRCLE program on 20th January, 2016 and was very pleased to be assigned my research supervisor, Prof. Shem O. Wandiga, who has provided me with wide-ranging support throughout my fellowship.

My research work
I was able to tackle my CIRCLE research based on personal knowledge, cognitive abilities and techniques with adequate supervision of my supervisor and mentor. The main focus of the research was to extract lignocellulosic (pure) material from two agricultural residues; palm fruit fibre and physic nut (Jatropha curcas) and convert to useful energy and chemical feedstock that is biofuel and feedstock for industrial use.  Currently, at my field sites (Aranyin Village, at the oil palm processing centre and physic nut plantation site, near Ogbomoso, Nigeria) the residues are dumped near the processing centres because there is no technology for the villagers to process it further.
Collecting samples in the field

For my research I obtained the lignocellullosic materials from the residues and pyrolysed at low pressure at selected temperatures to determine the optimum level. Then bio-oil was extracted for each residue and further analysis was carried out using GC-MS machine in order to determine different components in each sample residue. The analysis found that the density, viscosity and calorific values of the palm and physic residue oil were comparable to other common fuels such as, gasoline, diesel, ethanol, wood, coal and natural gas. This indicates that bio-oil from the residues is a potential source of energy and can be upgraded for use as fuel. Aromatic oxygenated and hydrocarbon compounds are major dominant compounds in the palm fruit fibre oil and physic nut shell oil is rich in aromatic ethers, cyclic ethers, secondary amides and organic halogen compounds which are also important feedstock useful for industrial purposes.
Conducting experiments in the laboratory

When residues are burnt, bio fuels and chemical compounds are released into the atmosphere causing air pollution, contributing to global warming. It is therefore both profitable and highly beneficial if energy and chemicals can be produced from them rather causing environmental pollution. In this framework, climate stewardship becomes a partnership between the public, higher education and the government. To implement the findings, it is important that representatives of the relevant stakeholder groups separately deliberate on a new system of proper disposal of residues and renewable technology relevant to climate policy. This could then move to a symposium and workshops which bring various ideas from different groups together to embark on technology that is environmental friendly and to develop strategies or policies for combatting climate change.
Attending the roles of Higher Institutions on Climate Change conference at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

I have presented the results of my research at the “East and Southern Africa Environmental/ANALYTICAL Chemistry Conference (ESAECC), The 11th Theoretical Chemistry Conference in Africa (TCCA)" 2016 in Mombasa, Kenya and "Roles of Higher Institutions on Climate Change”, held at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. I was also able to attend the ACU conference of university leaders in Accra, Ghana, in July and while in the UK I took advantage of the opportunity to meet my specialist advisor (Prof. Patricia Harvey) at University of Greenwich, Kent, UK where I presented my research work at her departmental seminar room. The experience in the bio-oil technology has been a worthwhile and enriching one. These skills have led to further training on  bio-gas production from animal dung; “Bio-gas Production Technology” at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

I acknowledge Almighty God for the privilege and safe trips through out. My appreciation goes to my Supervisor on this program, and financial support of the CIRCLE programme, which has contributed immensely on the achievement of the work. My profound gratitude goes to LAUTECH, Ogbomoso for releasing me and the University of Nairobi for providing research facilities. I really appreciate the CIRCLE management team for supporting my attendance at the Climate Change Symposium at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Indeed, my skills in technology for renewable energy and my capacity in Climate Change research have improved tremendously through this fellowship. Long live the CIRCLE fellowship, ACU, AAS and Vitae!!!!