Turning Kenya’s problematic invasive plants into useful bioenergy

kenya africa jungle t20 QzbNdk Turning Kenya’s problematic invasive plants into useful bioenergy

The shores of Lake Victoria are clogged with water hyacinth, a South American invasive plant that is hurting Kenya’s freshwater fishery, economy and people’s health. While manual removal is effective, it is labor intensive and can’t keep up with the spreading plant. Kenyans are innovating to find ways to reduce water hyacinth by finding practical uses for the invader. In 2018, a program was launched to turn the exotic species into biogas which is then offered to economically vulnerable households to use as a biofuel for cooking. One proposal being considered: a scaled up industrial biogas plant that would use water hyacinth as a primary source of raw material. Efforts are also underway to convert another invasive plant, prickly pear into biogas used for cooking. A biocontrol insect is also proving effective, though slow, in dealing with prickly pear. These economically viable and sustainable homegrown solutions are chipping away at Kenya’s invasive species problem, though to be truly effective, these various projects would need to be upscaled. DUNGA BEACH, Kisumu, Kenya — It’s early morning and fish mongers prepare for the day a short distance from Lake Victoria. Inside a stall, they descale, cut, and clean fresh fish atop […]

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