At Lake Victoria, on the Kenyan side in Homa Bay County, water hyacinth covers some 3200 hectares. The annual production of water hyacinth is 300,000 kg per hectare, wet weight. These numbers translate to 960,000 tons of water hyacinth per year or
- 4,800 tons of water hyacinth to be harvested per day (assuming 200 working days per year).
16 hectares of water hyacinth harvested per day
- The water hyacinth harvesting technology is available mainly from China, Australia, and European SMEs.
A review of the technology shows that the harvesters’ capacities depend on the harvesting boat’s speed (m/s), the width of the harvesting equipment (m), and the depth of harvesting.
Models like the water hyacinth harvesting machine DF-GC85 can harvest, cut, collect, store, and offload water hyacinth. The harvester uses sophisticated hydraulic technology. It consists of a collection arm, conveyor belt, and a mechanism for lifting the water hyacinth to transport boats or storage tanks.
A harvester can handle 2.5 hectares per hour, and the harvest must be stored in barges and transported to the shore for storage near the processing plant.
Let’s assume that the harvested water hyacinth has a moisture content of 94 %. The harvester is capable of reducing this to a moisture content of 75 %. This way, the production per hectares shrinks from 300,000 kg to 48,000 kg, and the output of the harvester above will be 120 tons per hour. Two barges with a capacity of 240 tons are needed to store the water hyacinth. Each should have the ability to process 240 tons; this means that after every 4 hours, they would pull the two barges to the shore.