Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) is making giant strides in the area of technology. Its team of researchers in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, led by Professor Olawale John Olukunle, has developed a self-propelled water hyacinth harvester. The innovation is said to be timely, unique and aimed at solving major national problems. The water hyacinth harvester will be used for dams, at the Niger Delta, coastal states and other riverine areas of Nigeria.
Water hyacinth is a water weed. It is a threat to fishing and navigation in the riverine areas of Nigeria. The water hyacinth harvester, when used on waterways, will eliminate many problems associated with the spread of water hyacinth and other aquatic weeds. Other methods of removal of weeds, which include biological and chemical methods, have severe and uncontrollable consequences on sea animals and biodiversity, in general. This new innovation will aim at combating the menace of these seaweeds and convert them into wealth. Water hyacinth removed mechanically can be transformed into paper, briquettes, fertilizers, animal and fish feed, etc.
Earlier in 1991, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, FUTA, made appreciable efforts through Professor Cornelius Ademosun to develop a mechanical harvester that would remove water hyacinth. However, it was hindered by the sponsors. The newly developed water hyacinth is very stable on waterways and removes water hyacinth by cutting, storing and offloading water hyacinth from the barge. The materials for the fabrication of the barge and other components of the harvester were all sourced locally. The machine consists of a cutting mechanism, a loading conveyor, offloading conveyor, power units, a central control unit and a steering wheel.
This project was financed by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Abuja, as part of its commitment to rehabilitate the Dam in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where the trial was carried out. A big congratulation goes to the inventor, Professor Olawale John Olukunle and his team. This is a huge step in the right direction for the country in the area of Science and Technology. Kudos to the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) for the giant stride achieved.