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AE-FUNAI RESEARCHERS INVENT ‘COMPOXTER ‘MACHINE TO IMPROVE SOIL FERTILITY AND CASSAVA YIELD IN EBONYI STATE

A team of five interdisciplinary researchers from Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, who represented the institution at the 27th edition of the Research for Impact (R4I) Initiative held at Innov8 Hub, Abuja, has invented  a CompoXter machine that can help in improving soil fertility, and cassava yield in Ebonyi State. 

 

Display of the CompoXter solar powered machine for turning organic waste to organic fertilizer

 

Research for Impact (R4I) Initiative represents the unwavering commitment of Innov8 Hub and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to reshape Nigeria’s research landscape and unlock the nation’s vast potential for sustainable progress. It envisions a future where innovation and research coverage, unlocking opportunities and fostering sustainable development becomes the societal order.

 

The 2-week immersive programme which commenced on Monday, 25th March, 2024, was specifically designed to foster research, development and innovation within the Nigerian academics, to instil a culture of innovation, empower demand-driven research, and facilitates the commercialization of research findings through the application of design thinking principles, interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as create problem-solving techniques that will inspire researchers to transcend conventional boundaries.

 

AE-FUNAI research team making their presentation at the event in Abuja

 

 

While presenting their research report to the Vice-Chancellor, on Thursday, 2nd  May, 2024, at the VC’s conference room, a member of the research team, Dr. Robert Onyeneke stated that the concept of the Research for Impact (R4I) Initiative was to support the tertiary institution lecturers with the needed skills and modern technologies to translate their ideas into commercially viable products and services as well as strengthen the Triple Helix (Head-on, Heart-on and Hands-on) synergy among the government, academia and industry.

 

He noted that the R4I Initiative subjects lecturers from Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education through the critical process of accelerated innovation while investigating the necessary procedures of translating ideas into innovation and solutions in line with global best practices.

 

Onyeneke, reiterated that the impact of the Initiative transcends the creation of prototypes, adding that it paves way for venture creation and ignites societal transformation, starting with the academia. He stressed that the initiative stands as a testament to the fact that unlocking the potential of great ideas and transforming them into tangible solutions is a journey that often remains within the boundaries of imagination.

AE-FUNAI research team, presenting their research report to the Vice-Chancellor,Prof. Sunday Elom, during a courtesy call to the VC after their return from Abuja

 

 He also noted that the strategic objective of the programme is to create a mind-shift for academics on how to translate ideas into research and projects; then into prototypes and products for commercialization, championing the cause of creating formidable platform for Nigerian academics, researchers, innovators and inventors to become patent owners and venture creators via Research for Impact (R4I) Initiative and TETFUND.

 

He added that the program is also meant to improve research and development capabilities of Nigerian academics, support their ideas and monitor their effort in translational research, as well as to instigate Nigerian academics to dig deeper into the field of researching for solutions and creation of proof of concept that can translate into commercialized products or solutions through Research for Impact (R4I) Initiative.

 

Speaking further, Onyeneke maintained that In the course of the training, the different institutions’ teams were subjected to problem identification strategies, where a research problem was identified, adding that the AE-FUNAI team identified a major problem experienced by cassava farmers in Ebonyi State, as low cassava yield largely caused by declining and low soil fertility in the State.

 

He mentioned that the team, based on the result obtained from the interviewees, went through different screening and evaluation criteria to identify 99 solutions to the problem identified. He stated that in the attempt to solve the declining soil fertility and low cassava yield problem in the State, the team developed a machine (prototype) and named it ‘‘CompoXter”, a solar-powered organic waste composting machine which converts organic wastes into high-nutrient organic fertilizer, which the team called “Fertil-compost”.

 

VC, Prof. Sunday Elom (3rd R) in a group photograph with the researchers as they display their invention

 

 

He further stated that the CompoXter works as a microbial conversion of organic waste material into a very high rich organic fertilizer (Fertil-compost), stressing that with the CompoXter, fertilizer producers will produce high-nutrient, low-income and environmentally-friendly fertilizer with greater efficiency.

Onyeneke recommended that in order to sustain the move, the management of AE-FUNAI should liaise with the Tetfund for the establishment of Innov8 Hub extension in the University to facilitate the Research for Impact (R4I) Initiative programme in the Institution, Encourage lecturers of the University to adopt the innovative methodologies of research which deploys the application of technology for problem solving, Lecturers to encourage the developmental capabilities of students, support their ideas and monitor their effort towards translational research.

 

Continuing, he urged the Centre of Extension and Community Service of the University to be more active and take up the responsibility of extending the research products/findings of AE-FUNAI researchers to the industry and government, adding that commercialization of research products and solutions should be the priority of the University. 

T AE-FUNAI team in a group photograph with other participants at the program

 

 

He further stressed that the Centre can work with the Directorate of Research and Development and School of Postgraduate Studies, and advocated that   the University’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policy should be reviewed to encourage research and innovation among the staff and students.

 

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Elom while receiving the researchers, commended them for their invention, noting that their work will help to revolutionize agriculture in Ebonyi State by providing workable solutions to the challenges facing farmers especially in boosting soil fertility for increased Cassava yields.

 

 He assured that their findings will be communicated to the relevant authorities in the State and the farmers at the local level, adding that the members of the University host community who are mostly farmers will also benefit from the findings and recommendations of the research work. He further assured of his continuous support to research and development in the University.

 

The AE-FUNAI Interdisciplinary Research Team that invented the CompoXter machine include: Dr. Robert. U. Onyeneke, Dr. Ndubuisi Onwa, Dr. Ikechukwu Onwe, Engr. Victor Ibeabuchi and Mr. Cletus Ngele Ezeoke