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Water Hyacinth is Used for Health Improvements in Africa

rate the destruction of the weed started by the insects.

No herbicide spraying was used in the Ugandan program, only mechanical removal and biocontrol, yet by 2000, 90% of the weed was cleared from the lake.

The result of this remark able program resulted in reduced cases of disease, increased power generation, and increased production of fish for export (mainly the Nile Perch).

Dr. Ogwang has also worked on other successful biocontrol programs to eradicate pests of citrus, cabbage, and cassava. He credits the development of his interest in biocontrol entomology to the traditional farmers in the village where he grew up.

These farmers practiced conservation and use of a predatory ant, Lepisiota sp., to control cotton bollworms, a practice still used in organic cotton farming in Uganda.

Similar biocontrol programs for water hyacinth have been successfully used throughout the tropics and subtropics, as well as in the U.S., in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Dr. Ted Center, Research Leader at the ARS/USDA Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, was involved in the original ARS/USDA research in the 1970s that initiated use of the Neochetina weevils as biocontrol agents of water hyacinth.

He credits the success of the same biocontrol program at Lake Victoria to Dr. Ogwang and his team. Along with collaborators from Africa, Australia, and South America, the Florida facility continues to research new biocontrol agents to improve the stability of the control provided by existing ones.

Biological control programs can present some hazards. The risks of introducing non-native predatory species must be carefully evaluated before they are introduced.

These risks include invasiveness by the control agents themselves and unintended effects on non-target species. Biocontrol agents must also be carefully monitored after introduction for any unforeseen environmental
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