The economic opportunities that lie within hyacinth at Lake Chivero


At one time I visited the Lake Chivero to reflect on nature like I always do, and to my surprise I noticed a weed like plant that had spread like a massive spectacular blanket ,close to the edges of the lake. Researching about this particular beautiful hydrophyte plant, I understood how much of a problem it could become if not controlled, and also how much of an economic opportunity it could be if….. harvested and put to use to local communities surrounding Lake Chivero.
Hyacinth also scientifically known as Eichhornia crassipes, which thrives on most lakes in Africa, One in particular being Lake Chivero.Hyacinth is believed to have come as an alien pot plant in Zimbabwe, as its native origin is Brazil. Despite its beauty poised it is becoming a menace to human economic and social development, because of its broad leaf structure it chokes the lake of fresh air and direct sunlight thereby causing a danger on the lake’s ecosystem, Further more it causes a decline in fish population which becomes a problem for the locals who depend on fish as a food source as well as a means for generating income. It also causes rapid evapotranspiration which can change the water balance of an environment; it also poses as a huddle for recreational activities to take place as it causes obstruction of navigation. Biology has it that it that the plant multiplies rapidly, moving easily with water currents, wind, or other accidental means, such as fishing nets and boats, and thrives in a sewage environment. Despite control measures through mechanical, physical, biological and chemical ways such processes end up being financially burdensome and pose other problems which are detrimental to human health.
Having noted the cons of Hyacinth’s infestation, I found it a great discovery to note that this very plant though it harbors problematic issues, it also is a blessing in disguise especially in Zimbabwe. For instance in Kenya hyacinth has been put to use by the people of Kisumu Port of the Great Lake Victoria. According to Nancy Mwangi et al., Kisumu people take the stalks of the dried plant to make furniture, coffins,rope, ornaments, buckets. The dried plant is also used for agricultural purposes as fertilizer or animal fodder as it is rich in protein.

Biogas is also a major product of hyacinth for the people of Kisumu used in place of wood fuel. In Zimbabwe a study was carried out by K.Munjeri et al on the possible use of hyacinth as an alternative energy source in the form of briquettes, Having tested the plant with other leaf species, they concluded that successful commercialization of the briquetted hyacinth would reduce unemployment, deforestation as well as lead to improved environmental standards. According to Jeannie Yandel of KOUW, the founder of Village Volunteer Shana Greene has fostered sustainable solutions of the use of hyacinth as sanitary pads in Kenya as it absorbs water and is biodegradable as well as compostable.
In conclusion Hyacinth is that one invasive plant that can also be manipulated to foster entrepreneur skills, provide jobs and improve the livelihood of the locals that reside around the lakes that have been invaded by this aquatic plant.
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