Two students turn invasive hyacinth into fertiliser

Fishermen attempt to navigate through a blanket of hyacinth in Lake Victoria. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Fishermen attempt to navigate through a blanket of hyacinth in Lake Victoria. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The troublesome water hyacinth in Lake Victoria and parts of Lake Naivasha could be a key contributor to food production should an innovation by two students from Kiambu county is scaled up.

The two from Loreto High School Limuru came up with a simple process through which the weed could be processed into an organic fertiliser.

Martha Njuguna and Linet Kabiru, who have completed their secondary education, are hopeful that the idea will soon be of great benefitting plans to increase food production as this will provide affordable inorganic fertiliser.

Their patron, Stephen Onyango, said the two students' innovative solution has earned the attention of agricultural players after it was ranked top in last year’s Kenya Science and Engineering fair in the Ecological and Biological Science category.

Ms Njuguna has joined a local university while Ms Kabiru got a scholarship to study in Australia.


Organic use

“We are keen on seeing their innovation scaled up and through partnership with organisations or individuals.

"The basic idea is not only supported by the need to deal with the hyacinth menace but also to take advantage of its ability to absorb nutrients from water, the same that we can tap for organic use in agriculture,” Mr Onyango said.

To prove their innovation, the two students planted maize in three plots, one with the hyacinth-based fertiliser, another one with an organic phosphate fertiliser and a third one without any fertiliser.

The one with hyacinth fertiliser performed better than the other two, proving that the weed could be a great potential to a cheaper option out of food shortages.