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Sunday, April 21, 2024

How Lifebuilders, SGP grantee, obtained patent for moringa bio-gel

Lifebuilders, a non-governmental organisation based in Ibadan, Oyo State, has been awarded a Patent Certificate by the Federal Government for its invention of the moringa bio-gel.

Biogel stove
Applying the bio-fuel gel to a stove

The invention entails the process and method of producing bio-gel from moringa as a bio-fuel and a renewable energy .

According to the certificate, government said it acceded to the request for a patent in order to encourage inventions which may be for public good.

The invention transformed from a dream to reality, thanks to a grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programmer (UNDP).

Obtained in 2015, the grant enabled Lifebuilders to produce moringa bio-gel from moringa ethanol, ostensibly to replace fossil fuel of kerosene and firewood being used for household cooking energy by 67% of residents of Alore-Ijaiye communities, who are beneficiaries of the project.

According to Mrs. Ibironke Olubamise, National Coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme, Mrs. Grace Oluwatoye, Executive Director of Lifebuilders, started her moringa adventure in 2012 with an entirely different intention.

Olubamise recalls: “Mrs. Oluwatoye went to harvest moringa with the 25 members of Ijaiye women cooperative group whom Lifebuilders had supported plant 2,500 stands of the nutrient dense the moringa oleifera plant in order to boost the household food security programme. An urge to use the tender stem of the moringa plant as chewing stick gave a peppery taste, which tests later showed was ethanol.

“In the bid to produce bio-gel from the ethanol, she constituted a 15-member Project Implementation Committee comprising people drawn from related agriculture research institutions, community association and local government authority.

“Lifebuilders organised meetings to share its findings on the moringa ethanol, its objectives and the available grant from GEF SGP. Accepting it was a daunting work because of lack of financial compensation to the collaborators (GEF SGP fund was strictly for the project), but Mrs. Oluwatoye was resolute and was able to convince the team to pursue this idea to the last mile.

“Lifebuilders developed prototype machines and was able to work with the moringa until they arrived at a flowchart of how to and eventually got the ethanol with which bio-gel was produced that burnt so blue and cooked meals which was then introduced to the community women. A prototype stove was also fabricated locally to use the moringa bio-gel. Over 120 households have benefitted from the bio-gel stoves.”

In 2017, Lifebuilders was accorded a Finalist Winner of the prestigious UNDP Equator Award and got the innovation patented a year later.

“Upon being accepted for national scale up in October 2018, the GEF Small Grants Programme gave a second grant to explore the development of a business model from the project outcomes as well as commercialisation of the model.

“This has been done and achievements presented at the Lesson Learnt and Knowledge Management Workshop at the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) in Ibadan. Some useful suggestions were made to ensure the last mile benefits of this project to be shared globally. An Atlas of the moringa plant was produced and presented for public use,” said Olubamise.

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