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Today you are going to hear about the many uses of the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).
The water hyacinth grows all over the world.
It is a purple flowering plant that covers many ponds and rivers.
Water hyacinth grows very, very quickly.
Fish cannot breathe and boats cannot travel when a pond or river is covered by the weed.
The blooms of the hyacinth also provide a breeding place for insects and diseases.
Many people in different countries are working to find new uses for water hyacinth.
Perhaps water hyacinth is a problem in your area as well.
If so, then you will want to know about the many uses of the water hyacinth.
There are all kinds of things the weed is good for after it is harvested.
People in Uganda use water hyacinth to make paper and mats.
You can dry or cook the weed and feed it to your cows.
But remember, animals may get sick if they change their diet suddenly, so make sure you mix the water hyacinth with other feed!
You can also use water hyacinth for compost.
Women in Fiji weave baskets with dried water hyacinth.
Farmers in Bangladesh and Burma make floating vegetable gardens.
They heap mud on top of densely packed water hyacinth and grow all sorts of vegetables.
Some people compress dried water hyacinth into logs and burn it for fuel.
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There are so many good uses for just this one plant: feed it to your animals; make paper, mats or compost; burn it; or build a floating garden of your own!
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- Contributed by: Patrick Chiwawa, Keen Youth Organisation, Chiradzulu, Malawi, Africa.
- Notes from Mr. Bashir Hossein, District Jamalpur, Bangladesh.
“The Beautiful Blue Devil,” by Noel D. Vietmeyer, in Natural History, November 1995. The American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.
- Aquaphyte, Vol. 9, No. 1, Summer 1989. Centre for Aquatic Plants, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida, USA.