Benefits of hyacinth to rice farmers

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The zero waste movement is gradually spreading across all sections of daily living, that seeks to encourage redesigning of resources and their life cycles to prevent waste or reduce waste generation.

Wastes are unwanted or unusable substances from home, factories, markets, industries among others. Processing one or more of these waste becomes a by-product for reuse industrially, agricultural purposes and otherwise.

One of such wastes is the Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia Crassipes Solms) popularly known as sea weed.

In the case of water hyacinth which has been regarded to as a waste product hampering water navigation, fish farming and other sea activities like irrigation in some parts of the globe.

Water hyacinth is the flowery plants that grow on dams, rivers and lakes popularly known as “sea weed’’ and are regarded as one of the world’s worst aquatic weeds first seen in Brisbane, Australia, Sydney and Grafton in the 1890s.

The sea weed can be reproduced naturally and through production of vast quantities of seed; according to records, once it appears in lakes, dams and rivers can double in size in a few weeks.

Some of the problems water hyacinth can cause are, blockage of river channels and impediment, transforming aquatic environments into terrestrial ones, degrading of water quality by adding taints and odor to the water.

To control the spread of sea weed, the water level should be considered, especially in the manual control, hand removal, shade and cutting to remove the invasive weed.

Findings

Recently, the World Bank-Assisted Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement, Livelihood Support (APPEALS) project in Lagos, organised a three-day training event for farmers on the utilisation and harvesting the aquatic weed for organic fertiliser to be used by rice farmers.

The training highlighted three ways of control and decomposition methods to get the fertiliser.

According to the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, Lagos is taking strides to develop zero waste in the state.

“The utilisation of water hyacinth is very important and we are making bold steps towards zero wastes in the state.

“We know Lagos is in the forefront of rice production and processing, so, I think it is something we have to venture into. Harvesting this weeds and turning them into organic fertiliser will go a long way to boost rice production.

“The issue of water hyacinth is a menace to water transportation in the state as well as fish production; then if we can utilise it for other purposes, it will also be something that will improve the economy.

“Since water hyacinth can be used for organic fertiliser which is environmentally friendly and can improve crop production and improve rice production, then, Lagos State is ready to key into this trend,’’ he said.

Dr Birnin Yauri of the National Institute for Fresh Water Fisheries Research, New-Bussa, said that there were three ways to manage water hyacinth, as the American attack, conferment and covering with tarpaulin.

“American attack in a war is that they attack you from outside and will not allow you to come close to their territory, so this method is restricting the hyacinth in a particular area without allowing it get to a stage of hindering water transportation and fishing activities.

“The second is, if you wish to utilise it as an organic manure, it will be confined in an area, then we add some things to decompose it and leave for between 30 to 40 days for the manure to be ready for use in rice farms.

“The third is covering the water hyacinth with the tarpaulin to deny it from activities and after 30 days the plant will die.”

Analysis

According to Yauri’s analysis, physical control using shading requires 10m by 10m plot infested with water hyacinth along the shoreline will be mapped out; 20m by 20m of black tarpaulin will be used to cover the mapped area.

Although this depends on the depth of the pants and infestation levels; for level A: the black tarpaulin requires a single layer; level B will be double layer and level C will triple layers.

Six holes will be punctured on the black tarpaulin, rings will be used to tie the holes to avoid tearing and six iron rods of 1m in length will be in each of the holes.

Also, there should be 100 gram of Colocynthis Citrullus shell to be spread on each 1m x 1m of water hyacinth, and then allowed to settle for five minutes, then make the Colocynthis Citrullus go round the corners, after that, the water hyacinth will be covered with black tarpaulin.

The site should be monitored daily for a month.

The APPEALS training took place in Topo, Badagry in Lagos on Tilapia production, using the Cage Culture Rearing Method; Control of Water Hyacinth and Production of Organic Fertiliser from Water Hyacinth.

Mrs Oluranti Oviebo, the State Project Coordinator of the Lagos APPEALS during the training noted that it was becoming necessary to expose farmers to technologies and innovation in the agriculture space.

Oviebo says that farmers should be ready to embrace new technologies to increase their productivity and which is the main focus of the project.

The APPEALS, a fallout of the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) by the World Bank is focused on three crops; Rice, Aquaculture and Livestock.