A hyacinth weeds plant “Imboch” that invades Lake Tana.
We are watching both the Ethiopian and Amhara Televisions daily news regarding uncontrollably growth of weeds plant that invade Lake Tana. As if we are in the 19th century we are witnessing to watch hundreds of people struggling to clear the hyacinth mats or in Amharic “Imboch” weeds plant from the lake daily. Because of the nature of the plant fast reproduction ability the amount cleared from the invested water body is not matching the amount of newly infested water area by this weeds plant daily. Therefore, the ongoing efforts to clear the weeds plant is one step forward and two steps backward. Therefore, finding different but effective approaches is a prerequisite. I am neither an agronomist nor plant protection expert. However, the reason why I want to comment on this issue is not to give scientific recommendations how the clearance strategies should be but to comment what is going on by the Federal and Regional level with regard to tackling this very dangerous weeds plant.
For any person with common sense it is not hard to understand the seriousness of the incidence when this kind of unusual weeds plant invasion is occurring in our surroundings. I am not sure but some saying that this plant was first seen in some part of Gonder zone some 5 years ago. If this is true why the information and its urgency delayed to reached out to the concerned bodies, in this case primarily the local, State and Federal ministry of agriculture offices. What is the difference between epidemic outbreaks of human or livestock diseases and this kind of plant weeds invasion which is beyond its natural limits? I am sorry to say but what are the local and regional state agricultural personnel doing? In particular if this is not a native weeds plant to the affected areas or if the plant is indigenous but shows unusual invasive nature it is the responsibility of the local agronomist and plant protection experts to pay attention and to recommend what measure should be taken to curb or to abate the spread of this weeds plant. Beside this there are research institution at state and federal level and what is their job? No one pay attention until the issue become out of control?
Understandably, this plant has significant socio-economic as well as environmental impacts both to regional and federal levels, in particular both to land and aquatic ecosystem. Because of its fast reproduction and its invasiveness to occupy large area of land and water bodies and compete aggressively and suppressing other plant to grow, and aquatic animal’s ability to reproduction, it needs to take a coordinated effort to minimize its impacts. The first line of defense is the ministry of agriculture, and other related research institutions to find a quick scientific solution. However, it is clear because of the delay and the land and water body areas infested by this weeds plant, and the damage it causes so far is enormous. My concern will be for the aquatic animals in Tana lake. I am not sure if it is possible to apply herbicides or other biological methods together with physical clearance without affecting the fish population which are at risk because of the plant. What impact does this plant create so far to the fish population is beyond my scope. But certainly, it will be enormous if things continue in the same fashion, in particular in affecting the bio-diversity of the aquatic ecosystem. What is probably serious is that the plant compete oxygen with the aquatic animals and may cause to grow algae in which the later largely have a direct impact to certain fish species. Taking in to consideration the desperate attempt by the regional state it raises a lot of questions but with few solutions. If so why don’t the federal government take the matter in its own hand and request international experts if necessary? What is strange though is that at one time the Ethiopian TV broadcasted that the respected Mr. Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi promised to buy some machines from outside to help the clearance efforts of the regional state. If this is true and there is a possibility to purchase machines what is the Federal government waiting for? The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is constructing with the full participations of the Ethiopian people. Why do we construct the dam if “Imboch” which is a water thirsty plant diminishing the water flow to the dam? Is it not unexplained phenomena?
Last, but not least, to me whether it is unusual disease outbreak, or social unrest or unusual and out of the ordinary weeds plant invasion, should be treated as an emergency issue and tackle appropriately without delay. What should be clear here is that this weeds plant does not respect man-made boundaries and hence primarily it should be the responsibility of the Ethiopian Federal government, and second the downstream countries in particular Sudan and Egypt should be consulted if they have willingness to contribute something to guarantee the water flow of the Nile (this depends on the nature of the plant to spread further to downstream countries and cause the same problem to their water bodies).This plant is water thirsty, hence first it minimizing and later it depleted the flow of the Nile water. Then GERD and Nasir dam will be empty! I do not think anybody want to see this happen.
Last, Ethiopia is at war in many fronts. The topic I raised above is one front which need maximum efforts supporting by scientific approaches to tackle the problem. But to tackle this we need peace. The other is political issue which become a malignant type of cancer our “politicians” terribly failed to manage and find lasting solutions. Ethiopia is at the hands of young generation. But I am not certain if the present generation is capable enough to conduct civilized discussions to solve complex problems, and live in unity with diversity. It is true we reap what we sow! If parents failed children failed too.
Long Live Ethiopia!