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Tackling climate change: Millar Open University turns grass to charcoal, paper

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Ghana, like many other West African countries, is battling with the dire effects of climate change that include drought, flooding, erratic rainfall patterns, and harsh weather condition among others.

Agriculture which serves as a backbone of Ghana’s economy is hampered due to low rainfalls or flooding.

The sector for many years has recorded low yields for both staple and cash crops leading to food scarcity in some parts of the country, especially Northern Ghana due to the impact of climatic conditions.

Tree cutting for charcoal production meant for domestic and commercial purposes is fast depleting the forests – a major contributory factor to climate change.

But as a remedy to mitigate the impact of climate change and preserve the ecosystem for the next generation, a private university in the Upper East Region, Millar Institute for Transdisciplinary and Development Studies (MITDS) has researched the production of charcoal using grass.

“We have developed grass charcoal in anticipation of replacing the current tree charcoal which involves harvesting of trees that takes very long to be established. So, we think that if grass can make charcoal, and competitively so tree charcoal will reduce and vegetation which is due to natural regeneration will bloom”, President of MITDS, Prof. Dr. David Millar stated.

He made this disclosure during the institute’s fourth graduation of students held on Saturday, June 18th.

Prof. Dr. Millar announced a Ghc400,000 contract the institute signed with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “to bring this technology to 5 communities on a pilot basis.”

Affiliated to the University for Development Studies (UDS), the accredited institution which is located in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region is the first Ghanaian-owned institution attempting to the clarion call for the need to run Open University System in Ghana; fallout from the Prof. Anamoh-Mensah report to the government several years ago.

Also known as Millar Open University, the institution has also made gains in researching to use of grass to develop a brown paper. This according to the president will control bush fires and environmental pollution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 13 on climate change by 2030.


“Though not perfected yet there are requests for the rudimentary products to be used for egg trays and livestock feeding in lieu of cement paper. Our major focus is however to contribute towards the menace of non-degradable plastic bags littered all over the country.”

With the perennial flooding that causes havoc on lives and properties in the nation’s capital – Accra, Prof. Dr. Millar indicated the institute’s readiness in finding a lasting solution to the menace through research.

Council Chairman of the Millar Institute for Transdisciplinary and Development Studies (MITDS), Rev. Prof. Saa Dittoh said the council is keenly monitoring the game-changing research agenda of the institute.

“The bold strides of this institute is a trail-blazing course to solve pertinent special problems of Ghana, and perhaps, Africa under an extended agenda code-named DEVELOPING A GRASS ECONOMY FOR NORTHERN GHANA,” he added.

The fourth congregation of the institute saw 4 PhDs, 3 MPhils, and 6 BSc graduating.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah

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