From invasive menace to nutritious animal feed
The company Biofit reduces dependence on land-based feed crops by harvesting invasive water hyacinths from Lake Victoria and processing them into animal feed.
One-third of the planet’s arable land is occupied by livestock feed crops like soybeans and maize. As populations grow richer, the consumption of animal-source foods like meat and dairy tends to rise. Alternative feed sources that require less land and put less pressure on the environment are greatly needed. Originally introduced from South America, the water hyacinth has become a major invasive plant species in Lake Victoria. The aquatic plant covers over 10,000 hectares of the world’s second largest freshwater lake. The thick mat of hyacinths floating on the surface smothers aquatic life by obstructing sunlight and deoxygenating the water, making it difficult for native plants and fish populations in the lake to survive. BioFit, a Kenyan company has developed an animal feed that can address the invasive hyacinth problem while simultaneously producing more environmentally-friendly raw materials for manufactured livestock feed. A pilot study on dairy animals and poultry found a 30% increase in production and a 20% reduction in the cost of feeding. BioFit is currently removing 2 tons of water hyacinth from the lake surface every week. From this amount, the company produces 5 tons of livestock feed per month.