The water hyacinth is an invasive aquatic plant found in Lake Nokoué in the southern area of Benin. This plant grows rapidly, forming thick layers on the water, shading out other plants. As it decays, it depletes oxygen levels, impacting the fish and other aquatic life in the lake. In addition to the ecological impacts, the hyacinth also has economic impacts, clogging up transportation routes. The hyacinth fiber has a high-performance absorption power for all types of liquids, from dyes to crude oil and heavy fuel oil. Green Keeper Africa created a transformation path that takes harvested hyacinths and converts them into an absorptive product that can soak up oil spills.
Building an Economic Engine
In order to produce the absorption solutions, Green Keeper Africa works with local communities to collect and prepare the hyacinth for production. The company needed more visibility into the growth patterns to be able to set pricing each season and direct harvesters to the most abundant areas.
Blue Raster developed an application that uses an algorithm to detect water hyacinth in satellite imagery. The application also gathers data from water sensors currently being prototyped by MIT as well as other ground data and water quality readings. Green Keeper uses this view of real time and historic data to fairly set prices and plan for harvest areas they need to support.
Beyond Hyacinth Tracking
This application can help promote additional sustainable and profitable uses of Lake Nokoué. Acadja is a fishing method where dense masses of branches are set in an area to attract fish in large numbers for harvesting. The Blue Raster application can use footage from drones to map the placement of the Acadjas, overlaying that information with other data to track environmental impacts and/or present alternate locations or methods that may result in more fish with less environmental impact.
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