By Frank Oshanugor
A graduate of Economics from the University of Ado Ekiti, Mr. Adegoke Adewale (with his team) on Friday in Lagos emerged the first position winner with $3,500 prize at the final contest of EkoClimathon 1.0 that began a few months ago.
The graduate farmer who in 2020 founded Digitagric Integrated Limited in his winning presentation had come up with possible solutions on how to checkmate some challenges brought about, by agriculture to climate change and ultimately increase yields and profitability for farmers.
According to his team’s research, chemical or synthetic fertilizers contribute a lot to climate change, as they are full of chemical ingredients, produce green house gases, damage the soil and the environment.
His team’s winning streak was the production of organic and biochar fertilizers from crop residues, excessive agricultural wastes and so on.
His company which is a circular based business, in transforming agricultural wastes into eco-friendly fertilizer, invariably increases the yield of the farmers and at the same time, revive or regenerate the degraded soil.
The Digitagric team which was selected as the best from the pool of finalists out of about 1034 participants from about eleven countries, is one hundred percent committed to social impact with a major concern on how to increase the productivity of the farmers, better yields and improved income.
While Exousia group went home with the second position prize of $2,500, Coloid Technologies came third with a winning prize of $1,500.
In his welcome address, the founder and curator of Eko Innovation Centre (EIC), promoters of the EkoClimathon initiative, Mr. Victor Afolabi harped on the challenges of climate change and insisted that everyone should be concerned.
He explained that being proactive as a nation to challenges brought about by climate change would help a lot to avert future problems associated with it, hence EIC had set out to promote initiatives on how to tackle the challenges of climate change with technology.
Speaking to journalists on the side of the event, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni said a lot of progress was being made with respect to recycling of what we called waste.
According to him, “everything we call waste is a resource” as such waste products are turned into some other uses that give value. For example, organic waste materials are turned into fertilizer while waste of combustible nature can be used for burning while plastics are turned into other products of value.
Giving some insight into the usefulness of plastics for instance, Odumboni said there was already an increase from N15K paid for a kilogram of plastic to N170 per kilogram of plastic bottles gathered for recycling.
He disclosed that by next month (September) a company called Polysma would take off in Lagos to recycle used plastic bottles with daily average of 4.5million bottles consecutively for the next five years.
This initiative, he explained would provide more employment opportunities for people and self employment for those who want to work for themselves. He added that already technology has aided LAWMA in making things easy for any one who wants to engage in the plastic collection business for recycling.
Elaborating on this, the LAWMA boss said interested collectors can leverage the newly introduced Pakam App. Pakam Application is an Uber type of mobile application system which was designed to support the Lagos recycling initiative by connecting households to aggregators/recyclers closest to them.
Pakam App is an all inclusive waste management software application that connects communities.
As a sector with employment opportunities, Odumboni said that over 15,000 personnel are currently employed in waste management sector by Lagos State Government as against the less than 2,500 staff prior to Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
Commenting on the final contest of EkoClimathon 1.0, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Mr. Olatunbosun Alake, commended the top winners and all others for showcasing the talent in them.
In his words, “today is a testament of the ingenuity of Nigerians, what we are able to do to solve problems. We all know that climate change is an issue and so government is happy to support initiatives like EkoClimathon which aimed at seeking solutions.”
The Executive Director of Circular Economy Innovation Partnership, Natalie Beinisch who was one of the jurors that selected the winners told journalists that she was happy the entire contest showcased teams that had done great works. “I am happy with the top winner and runner ups,” she remarked.
The jurors who were talented in their own rights were generally described as people of integrity as Digitagric the winning team was overwhelming applauded soon as the results were announced. Prior to the announcement, journalists present at the event were already expressing the hope that the first prize should go to Digitagric in view of the overwhelming innovative and convincing elements in their presentation.