I guess it might be the hopelessness I see in that situation. I didn't mention it last time around, but I remember that trying to conduct independent research was really tedious, which is what you'd probably expect it to be; but, one particular low point was hearing people dismiss my ideas without even seriously considering them.
I got the same exact kind of vibe from the scientist, Dr. William Ojwang', who around the 3:43 mark of the video discourages using water hyacinth for economic ends. I actually did a background check on him and fish (management) is his 'bread and butter', so of course he understands things from a fish economics point of view, and that's fine...BUT that doesn't mean that it's the only right way to achieve the desired goal.
I believe that a lot of the opposition I felt when I was doing my research was from people who were of a similar mind as the scientist, which in retrospect is understandable because it would be useless to sink an already established industry (fishing) for a fledgling field (phytoremediation).
Anyway, that was 6 years ago; but a recent YouTube search saddened me because it brings up stuff like this: Lake Victoria & Water Hyacinth.
6 years down the road, I can't believe we're still stuck in the same mess! There's money to be made off this weed and it's totally a win-win situation. Going through my notes, and from web searches, I can see that there's more people invested in small start-ups that are affiliated to this little venture and who could scale it up to something meaningful in a hurry:
- The Artisans wish to operate with bulkier volumes of the weed;
- I learnt of Green World Technologies, a Kenyan company, which produces green charcoal (a solution to sustainable energy needs in a developing economy )
- Medium & High Density Fiberboard can very well be made from this weed. If that isn't a boon to the construction industry, then I don't know what is.
- Specialty crafts paper manufacture
All in all, if we were able to take that massive amount of biomass and readily convert it into rope, fiberboard and green charcoal, it would be a win-win for everybody and every industry involved.
Good thing about the way my mind works is that I START WITH NEGATIVES FIRST. So when, for instance, Dr. Ojwang' mentions that harvesting and working the weed would cause it to be spread to other areas, I can see his reasoning. BUT the solution is simple: from watching the video is seems like the portions of the lake shore affected by the weed are for the most part desolate because of the weed's adverse effects. Therefore, why not just build a factory/processing plant right there close to the affected shore. That way, the weed doesn't get tracked to any pristine waters because any adherent seeds can merely be washed off and remain within the affected waters.
Drying, splitting, and collection can also be done rapidly at the processing factory, to yield 4 useful components: Leaves, Stems, Flowers & Roots. These can then be distributed to the relevant parties dealing with them
- Stems (Artisans, Green Charcoal producers, Fiberboard plant)
- Leaves (Research lab)
- Flowers (Essential oils extractor)
- Roots (Research lab)
So, that's what's on my mind. In closing, I'm reminded of something a Kenyan friend of mine mentioned a while back. He was talking about Kenya's lack of vision and how we needed someone to show us the way, even with regards to implementing projects. He basically said that even if we were given 1 million Shillings (USD 12,500) for a project, we wouldn't know what to do with it.
And of course, this was the first thing that sprung into my mind. I'm not business-savvy, but at least I'd spread this between the parties that have the ability to scale it up. So once I get home, the hit-list will look something like this
- Kisumu Innovation Centre Kenya (KICK)
- Green Water Technologies
- Great Lakes University, Kisumu (GLUK)
Let the work begin.