by Ejidiah Wangui
NAIROBI, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Young entrepreneurs from Homa Bay County in Western Kenya have ventured into animal feeds manufacturing using water hyacinth that has covered almost three quarters of Lake Victoria.
In addition to ending the water hyacinth menace that is threatening the survival of Africa's largest fresh water body, the youth are also offering farmers cheap and nutritious animal meal.
During a recent interview with Xinhua, Jack Omondi, the founder of Biofit Technologies, a manufacturer of the animal feeds, was optimistic that his venture would provide a solution to the recalcitrant hyacinth that has choked Lake Victoria for over a decade.
"Apart from providing employment to many youth who are involved in the harvesting and processing of the hyacinth from the lake, the initiative is offering a possible solution to ending the weed which is threatening the lake's survival," Omondi said.
The Biofit feed, which has 55 per cent proteins, boosts the yields of meat, milk, eggs and other animal products by at least 15 per cent, according to Omondi.
Despite the hyacinth being one of the main binding agents in the feed, Omondi says it contributes at least 10 percent of the protein content. They use other plants to supplement the feeds nutrition content.
Some 300 kilograms of weed is harvested daily but Omondi hopes to scale up the harvesting to two tonnes per day.
Maize germ is the main raw material for making animal feeds in Kenya but with the raging hunger, maize supply is way below the demand making it even harder for farmers as the cost of feeds has gone up by at least 2 U.S dollars for every 70-kg bag.
The Biofit feed has come to the rescue of farmers in the region as a kilogram of the meal costs about 0.2 U.S dollars compared to about 0.4 U.S dollars per kilogram of the common commercial feeds.
Animals like cows cannot feed on the hyacinth for long because of an irritating substance in the leaves but processing makes it more palatable.
Biofit technologies is the first company in Kenya to harness water hyacinth and convert it into animal feeds.