Day Income/Earn from Plants/



Water Hyacinth As Food, Fuel And Livelihood


Depending on which part of the world you live, you may or may not have already seen a Water Hyacinth. In other parts of the world, they are also known as Water Lilies, but the correct term should be water hyacinth.

But there is something both good and bad or good and good about water hyacinths, depending on how you look at it. The bad thing about water hyacinths is that they are an invasive species of plants which can clog up rivers and other waterways.

They are so invasive in many countries that there are even specialized machines and boats used to get rid of them. This is how invasive they are. They not only block the rivers and other waterways, but they also change the marine ecosystem of the river.

This is because they can block the rays of the sun from penetrating rivers and other waterways. They also starve the other marine lives both plant and fishes from much needed oxygen.


THEIR VERY INVASIVENESS CAN BE A GOOD THING

Now that we are aware of how destructive water hyacinths are to the water ecology they live in, we might also like to consider the fact that they multiply rapidly just like most invasive species of plants.

But this could actually be a good thing depending on how you look at it from an angle. One positive thing about water hyacinths is that even though they are not widely used as a source of food, they are actually edible.

This means that the more these specie of fast growing water plants reproduce, the more is your possible source of food. Below is just one video I found in YouTube which proves that these plants are really edible:

YouTube Video: USELESS PLANTS But We Cooked Delicious With Common Water Hyacinth Fish Curry - Kochuri Pana Recipe

As we can see, the waterways of the people are already blocked with water hyacinths, but these people don’t seem to care at all. Although they only eat the stems of the plant, you can see how much of these plants they eat.


COULD IT BE SOLD AS HUMAN FOOD?

I personally have not eaten the stem of a water hyacinth so I can’t tell whether the stem of a water hyacinth is delicious, bland or tasty. The only thing I know about it is that it is edible which is good enough for me.

In fact, when I searched online as to whether or not water hyacinths are being sold as human food, I found no references at all. There were no water hyacinth human food products in e-commerce sites nor on other websites.

Perhaps the reason for this is because these plants have so far been relegated to being plant pests instead of food. I have yet to see a cooking show anywhere around the world which features water hyacinths as the main ingredient in the menu.

Another reason why water hyacinths are not as marketable as food is because there’s simply too many of them and the fact also that they are easy to grow. It’s hard to find a plant food seller who would go to all the trouble of selling such plants.

But on a personal basis, you can grow the plants right in your own backyard if you have plenty of sources of water and even a waterway or pond. They grow fast which makes them ideal as backyard food.


AS ANIMAL FEED AND FERTILIZER

One thing that could make you money when you become a supplier of water hyacinths is if you sell them as animal food. I have found plenty of videos and articles online reporting how these plants can be used as animal and fish food.

People feed these plants to chickens, ducks, goats, cow and other animals. If you are still skeptical if water hyacinths are edible enough as animal and fish food, just watch a few YouTube videos with the search keywords: “water hyacinth as animal feed.”

But don’t think that only animals and fishes get to eat water hyacinths, because other plants also get to eat water hyacinths in a sense. This is because dried water hyacinths and the manure of animals which have eaten water hyacinths can be used as a fertilizer.

So, this is another moneymaking venture you can explore. You can sell both dried water hyacinths and manure made from water hyacinths as fertilizer. This might not work on farmers of developed countries, but farmers from developing countries are potentially ideal customers.

As you can see, water hyacinths by their very invasive nature are ideal food for both humans and animals. Humans can eat the stems of water hyacinths while animals can eat entire water hyacinths. These same animals can then be eaten by humans.


AS FUEL

One of the basic needs of humans is fuel. At the very basic, humans use fuel to cook their food and to light their houses. Fuel is also used to generate electricity which power machines and lighting in homes. Water hyacinth is a plant and we know that a lot of plants can be turned into fuel:


Dried Water Hyacinths Can Be Burned

At the very basic, you can dry water hyacinths and burn them. It’s as simple as this. Water hyacinths being aquatic plants contain more water as compared to their land based counterparts, but they also dry up in time.

In case you’re wondering, you don’t need special equipment to dry them. Many people who use water hyacinths for weaving for example simply dry them up using the heat of the sun. The longer they are exposed to the sun, the drier they become.

In areas where cooking resources are scarce like firewood, gas and even electric and as long as there’s plenty of water hyacinths in a nearby body of water, the greater is the potential to sell dried water hyacinths as a cooking fuel.


Dried Water Hyacinths Can Be Turned To Briquettes

A step more sophisticated to just selling dried water hyacinths as cooking fuel would be turning them into briquettes. There are two ways you can go about this depending on how you perceive your market to be.

The first one is by chopping dried water hyacinths into small pieces and then using a briquette making machine to press them into a solid briquette. There are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch which details how you can make briquettes from any kind of dried plants.

The second way is by Carbonizing your dried water hyacinths. This is the process of burning dried plants until they become charcoal. Once they get turned to bits of charcoal, you can then use a briquette making machine to make them coal briquettes.

As I have stated, these two markets cater to two different sets of consumers. The first one deals with a more price conscious customer. Since carbonizing water hyacinths is a more task intensive process, the higher is the price of carbonized water hyacinths.

I have actually made in a separate article titled The Growing Market For Briquettes Used For Cooking And Heating the growing market for briquette products.


As Liquid Fuel

Just like almost all plants can be turned to cooking briquettes, the same goes for distilling water hyacinths until liquid fuel or ethanol can be produced from them. There are actually many YouTube videos of how Africans have done this. Here’s just one:

YouTube Video: Biofuel from Water Hyacinth opens a world of possibilities for Kisumu residents

As we can see from the video and perhaps other similar videos, converting water hyacinths into liquid fuel is not really a sophisticated method. I’m sure a little knowledge of how plants can be distilled would be enough to get anyone going if they decided to do a similar thing.

The other thing good about liquid plant fuel or more commonly known as ethanol is that it can be used to run motor engines such as those from cars. In fact, the country of Brazil is well known for utilizing ethanol as a source of car fuel.

But this would be old news already for many as even the previously mentioned source of cooking fuels can be used to run cars. For example, there are a small number of vehicles today that also run using dry wood and coal briquettes.


As Biogas

Of course, anyone who has a certain amount of knowledge of using plant as a source of fuel also knows about this option. Biogas fuel can be extracted from rotting water hyacinths the same way that biogas can be extracted from other rotting organic materials.

Biogas can also be extracted during the distillation process of water hyacinths. Of course the downside to this is that one would need a large number of water hyacinths to make this possible. This is why this is usually relegated as a byproduct rather than the actual product.


AS HANDICRAFTS

To those with the artistic flair or for people who do not want to enter the fuel business, water hyacinths still have a use for them as raw materials for making handicrafts. The water hyacinth plant is durable enough even when dried which makes them ideal as handicraft materials.

One could make bags, wallets, bins, boxes and all the other items associated with handicrafts. There are also videos in YouTube which shows people making handicrafts out of water hyacinths. Just type the search keywords: “water hyacinth handicrafts.”


AS PAPER

Typing the search keywords: “water hyacinth as paper” would also show a lot of videos from Africa of how people there have turned water hyacinths into paper. I’m not really surprised by this since plants have long been used to make paper.

One easy video to follow if ever you are interested in making paper out of water hyacinths would be this:

YouTube Video: Papermaking with Water Hyacinth: Eco Innovation in Ghana

If you watched the video, you would immediately see that its just a simple paper making process. You can even tinker with the ingredients and the process the Africans used to make the paper.


CONCLUSION

Water hyacinths are considered a pest because they are invasive specie which if left uncontrolled would not only choke water bodies but also destroy the marine ecosystem in which they dwell in.

But their very invasiveness could be to our advantage. Water hyacinths can be used as food, cooking fuel and even engine fuel, and could also be used as handicraft and paper. The more of them there is, the more is our chance to convert them to food, fuel and other things.




You might also like to read the article:



Selling Dried Leaves And Other Dried Plant Parts

If you have ever grown any plants or even trees, you would know that the leaves of your plants and trees dry up and fall off on a regular basis. In fact, there are trees that shed all their leaves during some seasons ...