Use Water Hyacinth!
A Practical Handbook of Uses for Water Hyacinth from Across the World"
by Keith Lindsey and Hans-Martin Hirt
Printed January 2000
The book covers the important aspects of the biology of water hyacinth, in particular the structure of the plant and its rate of growth. The many and varied problems caused by water hyacinth are described, particularly with respect to Lake Victoria in East Africa. The various methods of control are evaluated, and details given about the international response to the ”problem”.
In these days of diminishing natural resources, it is boldly proposed that water hyacinth be regarded positively as an abundantly available source of biomass. Seen in this positive light, the excessive growth of water hyacinth is not only to controlled, but can be seen as a resource for the;
- - production of food for people and fodder for animals,
- - improvement of soil fertility,
- - production of fuel,
- - production of many useful items, and thereby employment and income.
Sometimes the rampant growth of water hyacinth can be attributed, at least in part, to agricultural chemicals entering the waterways, to the presence of pollutants in the water from towns and industries, and minerals from soil erosion. Prevention of such factors is, therefore, an important part of re-establishing the natural ecology in a given environment.
The following uses are described, and some detailed recipes are given:
- For use as fertiliser; compost, mulch and ash. The technique of growing vegetables on a raft of water hyacinth. The use as a substrate for growing mushrooms.
- For use as animal feed; as green fodder, hay, silage and leaf protein concentrate. For use as feed for farm animals and fish.
- For making rope, and then a range of crafts and furniture.
- For use as fuel; burning in the hearth, making briquettes, producing biogas.
- For making paper and boards.
- For other village scale uses.
- For larger scale use - possibilities for industrial manufacture of building boards, greaseproof paper, cardboard, fuel and electricity, carbon black, food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fertilisers.
- For water purification.
A chapter is devoted to the design and construction of simple equipment, particularly the solar oven which can be used for drying small quantities of water hyacinth.
Utilisation is not a cheap option. In order for utilisation to be a success, investment is still required in
- supporting many villagers and communities to use water hyacinth in a small way - through a
community development approach.- supporting the establishment of small businesses - through networks of advice and the availability of
small loans.- supporting larger scale use by industries or governments to link water purification with producing
paper, biogas and electricity, or chemicals.- supporting programmes for the treatment of effluents from towns and industries, and to minimise the
use of agricultural chemicals.- supporting programmes of conservation farming for small-scale farms and larger plantations, to
prevent soil erosion.- continued research into improved methods of mechanical removal.
This book is available for 7 Euro plus postage or you may download the chapters of interest free of charge
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