Kenaf, a local plant predominantly grown in the North, can be used to clean up oil spills in the South South.
Local plants, Kenaf, can be used to clean up the oil spills, the Niger-Delta region has faced for years, the United States Alumni Engagement Innovation Team said on Thursday.
The Team Leader, Morufat Balogun, who made the remark in Port Harcourt at a two-day workshop tagged, “Kenaf Clean up: Countering Oil spills in the Niger Delta with local plants,” said such approach would ensure a healthy environment in the area.
Ms. Balogun, also a lecturer at the Department of Crop Protection and Environmental Biology of the University of Ibadan, said Kenaf, as the local plant is known, is found to be environment-friendly.
The local plant is predominantly grown in the Northern part of the country.
When processed, the plant could be used as absorbent in the cleaning of oil spills.
The plant can also be used for the production of not only Plaster of Paris, POP, but paper bags, paper, fibre, artificial hair, (weave-on), roofing sheets, cooking oil, and restraining ropes, among others.
Ms. Balogun said the workshop is aimed at demonstrating the use of Kenaf in cleaning oil spills as well as develop community-integrated-
Kenaf, she said, is an environmental-friendly way of cleaning oil spill compared to oil-dispersants which can threaten marine and human life because of its toxicity.
“The use of plant material as an absorbent is another biological method of cleaning oil spills; Kenaf fibre is non-toxic, non-abrasive and is more effective than classical remediants like clay and silica.
“This home-made solution will integrate the inhabitants and harmonise the interest of stakeholders in developing a clean-up strategy that will impact positively on the health, environment, industry and economy of the Nigerian populace.
She said Kenaf, locally called Rama up North, is a low-risk cash crop whose cultivation requires minimal chemical applications and helps to alleviate global warming.
“Kenaf has been grossly under-utilized in Nigeria; in the United States, India, China, Australia, Kenaf is an industrial crop used for acoustic tiles, automobile industries, animal bedding, vegetable, fuel-wood besides its use as absorbent,” she said.
The university don called on the Federal Government and private organisations to partner with the group so as to optimise the use of Kenaf in the oil sector and other relevant areas of the economy.
Earlier, the Minister for Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said the government was committed to tackling oil spills in order to reduce cancer-related diseases in the Niger Delta.
Mr. Chukwu, who was represented by Chris Ojembe, Director, Chemical and Climate Change unit of the Department of Public Health in the ministry, said research had shown that the alarming prevalence of cancer in the Niger Delta region is due to years of environmental degradation and oil spill.
He said air and water borne diseases can be reduced if a local, cheaper and more environmentally friendly method of cleaning the environment can be developed.
The Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Peter Idabor, also said at the event that Kenaf has better economic and social values than oil dispersants.
Mr. Idabor, who was represented by Bola Ogundeji, an official of the agency, said the agency would collaborate with stakeholders on research and development of local methods of cleaning up spillage.