Lake Victoria produces about 400,000 tonnes of freshwater hyacinth annually, and this large volume has become a menace on the water surface.
Notably, dealing with the water hyacinth menace had become a seemingly insurmountable challenge for communities living near Lake Victoria.
As a result, people like Jack Oyugi, a biotechnologist, are dealing with the water hyacinth menace by doing value addition.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Jack Oyugi is the founder of Biofit, a company doing value addition to water hyacinth by turning the weed into high-quality livestock feed products.
He founded the company in 2016 while seeking the alternative types of animal feed to be used during dry spells.
Oyugi noted that during dry spells, animals such as cows would turn to water hyacinths due to lack of pasture.
However, the animals cannot feed on the weed for too long due to irritants contained in the water hyacinth leaves.
Oyugi did an intensive research on the same and made a product out of the weeds that was safe for animals.
He tested the products at the University of Nairobi (UoN) and later in the Netherlands before doing a study on it’s performance.
After conclusion of the study, Oyugi discovered that the product had not only increased milk production by 20% but it cost half as much as traditional feeds.
He also got a partnership with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, and that’s how he founded Biofit.
With three partners on board; a veterinarian, a livestock nutritionist, and a crop scientist, the partnership with SNV enabled him reach thousands of farmers spread across the country.
Since it’s establishment, the company has worked with government institutions, parastatals, and Non-governmental organizations both locally and across the world.
The company has 8 full-time and 4 casual employees including four individuals with a background of research and entrepreneurship.
At the same time, the company has contracted 20 fishermen to harvest the weed, creating a new source of income for them.
Biofit also boosts women’s incomes by hiring them to do sun-drying of the plant.