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Creating wealth out of water hyacinth

G.V. Ramana Rao
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Using a mechanical device the weed can be turned into compost, says farmer

De-weeding: A mechanical contraption being used to remove water hyacinth from Vanneru minor drain near Tenneru village in Krishna district.
De-weeding: A mechanical contraption being used to remove water hyacinth from Vanneru minor drain near Tenneru village in Krishna district.

Progressive farmers in Krishna district are trying to turn water hyacinth, considered by many as a bane, into a boon. Every year huge amounts of public money is spent on clearing water courses and bodies off the weed that grows at a prolific rate. Even after removal, it is left unproductively to either rot or dry up.

The Irrigation Department has, in this financial year, proposed to spend Rs. 5.5 crore for clearing water bodies and courses off water hyacinth by spraying it with weedicide that kills the aquatic plant in the water itself. The plant would then rot and get washed away as per the programme. But this is seen as a sheer waste of solar energy that has been converted into organic matter, besides the fact that the weedicide causes damage to the ecosystem. Business entrepreneur-turned-progressive farmer Devineni Madhusudhana Rao says that with a little bit of planning water hyacinth can be utilised to produce valuable compost that can be sold for as much as Rs. 15 a kg.

‘Simple method'

Using a mechanical contraption driven by a regular diesel engine, it is very easy to ‘harvest' the aquatic weed.

Starting with Vanneru minor drain near his village, Tenneru, Mr. Rao has started clearing the water hyacinth using the mechanical contraption that lifts the floating plant from the water surface, shreds it into bits for easy transportation and use. The shredded water hyacinth can be used for making very high grade compost. Experiments have shown that water hyacinth is a highly efficient absorber of fertilizer elements. The water hyacinth provides a means of purification and of trapping vast amounts of fertile elements, which are normally lost and reduce adverse impact on the ecosystem.

The mechanical contraption is the invention of Godas Narasimha, an engineering dropout from Mukthapur villageUsing large hooks tied to the end of a rope, the floating water hyacinth is dragged to the contraption and fed to it. The machine then pulls the weed into itself and chops it up into bits.

Government should invest in such contraptions and encourage farmers to carry way the shredded water hyacinth to be used for making of compost, he says.


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