Center Comes up with Herbicide to Rescue Lakes from Alien Weed, Emboch

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Photo By Maheder Haileselassie Tadese | Mongabay Series: Global Forests

A local botanical research and development center, Este Hiwot, has stated that it has found a herbicide that can put an end to water hyacinth, the invasive weed locally known as “Emboch.” 

Ethiopian Experts & Scholars Association, who gave a press briefing on the matter yesterday, stated that the herbicide was discovered using homegrown knowledge and can completely eradicate the weed that has been fast expanding on Ethiopian lakes.

This liquid-based herbicide is said to weaken the water hyacinth within 24 hours of spraying and kill the weed within 30 days.

The Association also claimed that a legal agreement with relevant bodies had been entered to put the herbicide in place. It plans to eliminate the weed from Ethiopian lakes in the coming three (3) years.

The founder of the center that discovered the herbicide, Belay Adamu, stated that the knowledge that led to the discovery of the medicine was obtained from the teachings and scholars at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

“Since the anti-water hyacinth herbicide is organic, it will not cause any direct or indirect effects on humans or other living organisms,” added Belay. 

The center also stated that to quickly apply for the newly found herbicide and stop the further widening of the weed, it needs government bodies and private entities’ help and support.

Water hyacinth is one of the world’s most invasive, fast-growing, and formidable water weed. The weed commonly forms dense, interlocking mats due to its rapid reproductive rate and complex root structures.

These mats grow exponentially with the potential to develop twice their original size in just seven (7) days. It has invaded freshwater systems in over 50 countries on five continents.

Efforts to control the weed (using manual removal and machine-based harvesting) have been applied; however, the magnitude and intensity of control activities have not slowed down the weed expansion. 

For the last 6-7 years, water hyacinth has been colonizing Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. In 2011, it was noticed at the Megech River’s mouth at the northeastern corner of the lake. Since then, it has been expanding largely on the northeastern corner covering the lake’s eastern and northeastern shorelines.

Tana, which used to be 3672 km wide, has now descended to 3000 km because of the weed. On three lakes, Tana, Ziway, and Hawassa, invasive South American weed has transformed water areas equivalent to 125,579 soccer fields into a landmass.