NAFIRRI Starts Reaserch To Fight Water Hyacinth on Rivers

2998 Views Jinja, Uganda

In short
Abdallah Nantabya, a resident of Kakira along Lake Victoria says that they can no longer go about with their work because of the water weed.

The National Fisheries Resource Research Institute-NAFIRRI has embarked on research to battle the water hyacinth on rivers. It follows the resurgency of the weed on various water bodies in Uganda after the Neochetina weevil species breeding project collapsed ten years ago. In 1998, Government under the Ministry of Agriculture and the Egyptian Government through the Ministry of Water Resource and Irrigation launched a 20 million dollar project, the Uganda-Egypt Aquatic Weed Control to prevent the water weed from spreading on Lake Victoria.

The project was partially successful on Lake Victoria, Kyoga and Edward until the Neochetina weevil species breeding project collapsed. Now, the weed has re-emerged in areas such as Fielding bay in Jinja, Thruston, Hannington and Mcdonald bay in Mayuge, Murchison Bay, Bunjako bay along River Katonga and River Kagera. Dr Fred Wanda Masifwa, a senior research officer Aquatic weeds management at NaFIRRI says that using the weevil they succeeded in fighting the water hyacinth on Lakes, but failed on rivers because of the high water current. He says the high water current interrupts the breeding cycle of the weevils which in turn affects their multiplication. Additionally, he says that the weed is washed down quickly along rivers, which calls for multiple methods to fight it.

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Abdallah Nantabya, a resident of Kakira along Lake Victoria says that they can no longer go about with their work because of the water weed. He says that says that several landing sites have been closed over the past two years because of the weed.

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Edward Rukunyu, the Principal fisheries Officer Ministry of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries says the ministry has already started research on new methods to fight the water hyacinth on Uganda’s rivers. These include the use of mites and sensitization of the community to start removing the weed manually. Rukunyu, says  another project is underway under the  Lake Victoria Environment Management -LVEMP Project phase II to revamp the weevil breeding project that stalled 10 years ago. Two affected landing sites Kasensero in Rakai district and Katosi in Mukono have already benefited from projects worth Shs 15m in the LVEMP phase II pilot project to breed weevils. 

The phase II project is still under Lake Victoria Environment Management Project - LVEMP. This program will involve sensitizing people living near water bodies in Uganda and training people on manual extraction of water hyacinth. After the pilot projects under the Lake Victoria Environment Management -LVEMP Project phase II, other water hyacinth hot spots will also have weevil breeding projects. The water hyacinth attacked Uganda’s water bodies and reached its peak in the late 1990’s. Efforts to fight the weed on Uganda’s water bodies hit a snag after the equipment deployed to fight the water weed at various landing sites was vandalized. Water hyacinth affects water flow, reduces fish stocks and catches and hampers water transport.