Water hyacinth is a free-floating perennial aquatic plant. The leaves may rise above the surface of water as much as 1 meter in height. They are attractive when they bloom. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that they are not native to Gorongosa Park but we have them. They are native to South America. Non-native plants in an ecosystem are known as invasive.
Back to the good news: water hyacinth makes an excellent, organic fertilizer. Soils enhanced with water hyacinth become more fertile and conducive to agriculture. In fact, compost made with hyacinth seems to perform better than factory-made chemical fertilizers.
Water hyacinth consumes nutrients, as it decays those nutrients are released back into the soil (including the essential nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium – elements desired in soil additives). Water hyacinth also improves soil texture due to its fibrous qualities.
As flood waters recede after the rainy season in Gorongosa Park it is easy for workers to collect the drying hyacinth left behind.
Our agricultural team will turn the hyacinth into compost which we will give free to local farmers. The employees pictured here include former combatants. This is part of our Peace Clubs initiative, wherein we create opportunities for these individuals and their families – as a component of our overall human development activities for the approximately 200,000 people who live near Gorongosa Park.
To summarize the benefits:
– We remove invasive water hyacinth from Gorongosa Park.
– We create natural, organic fertilizer (chemical fertilizers can harm the environment over the long-term, for example, by polluting ground water).
– We provide free compost to local farmers, increasing their yields.
– We create employment for individuals, some of whom are former combatants.
Workers collecting the drying hyacinth