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Water hyacinth: Floating Aquatic Plant Benefiting Humanity In Assam

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Know about Water Hyacinth Floating Aquatic Plant Benefiting Humanity In Assam

Water hyacinth is a free floating and flowering invasive aquatic plant. These plants rapidly increase biomass and form dense mats, reproducing from stolon, i.e., vegetative runners.  It is a free floating aquatic plant  of 0.5 – 1m(1.5 – 3ft.) tall, distinctive air bladders that keep leaves afloat, forming dense, floating mats. Thick, waxy, round, broad around 10 – 20 cm (4 – 8 inch) in diameter, cuplike, glossy and green in color. Spongy, erect stems up to 50 cm long, inflated with air bladders towards the base. Water hyacinth can completely cover lakes and wetlands, outcompeting native  aquatic species, reducing oxygen levels for fish and creating ideal habitat for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Large infestations of water hyacinth can prevent river transport, fishing, damage bridges and clog dams. It is one of the most prominent aquatic weed plant found throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of the globe. Making organic compost is one of the most economical solutions and can prove to be a permanent solution for most of the lakes that are polluted. 

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Water hyacinth: Floating Aquatic Plant Benefiting Humanity In Assam

Water hyacinth grows in all types of freshwater environments. The plant has a fibrous stem and a high potassium concentration. Work as an anti-inflammatory substance. Water hyacinth is actually edible, not only for animals but for people too. In the Philippines, the combination of lemon juice and hyacinth juice is to treat abscesses. Stalks and leaves are added to soups in Thailand. It has tough, fibrous roots that purify water, by absorbing the nitrogen and phosphorus on which it thrives and also many other substances that pollute fresh water, including minerals. It absorbs toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury and strontium 90 in concentrations 10,000 times that in the surrounding water. 

Water hyacinth was introduced as an ornamental crop in many countries more than a century ago, due to its attractive appearance and aesthetical value in the environment and also drawn attention due to  its bioremediation ability, capable of removing pollutants from domestic and industrial waste water effluents. It is one of the world’s most prevalent invasive aquatic plants. The sustainable livelihood framework was used to organize thoughts around the effects of water hyacinth invasion on fishing livelihoods. 

The fibers of water hyacinth can be seen as raw material for the manufacture of clothing and home fabrics such as curtains, upholstery, table runners, napkins, bed cover,  pillow case, bag and other items found at home. Nowadays, water hyacinth fiber has been applied to create various products such as coaster, slippers, basket, hats, fruit tray, furniture, handbag, office folder, women purse, etc. Tough yet flexible is known to be key properties of water hyacinth stem, which is the main material producing water hyacinth fiber.

The House and Building Research Institute in Dhaka has carried out experimental work on the production of fiber boards from water hyacinth fiber. 

They have developed a locally manufactured production plant for producing fiber board for general purpose use and also a bituminised board for use as a low cost roofing material. It is dried and used to make baskets and matting for domestic use.

 The key to a good product is to ensure that the stalks are properly dried before being used. If the stalks still contain moisture then this can cause the product to rot quite quickly. In India, water hyacinth is also used to produce similar goods for the tourist industry.

One of our local entrepreneurs Mr. Chandrakanta Kakati from Assam who is doing most talented work on water hyacinth and other homemade indigenous products like pickles, handmade towel, locally called festival pitha and lots more. 
The story was contributed by NomadLawyer volunteer Jahid Ahmed, Travel & Food Blogger, Community Health Counsellor, Social Worker.

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