Aqua Weaves

The other day, on the way to the bank, I quickly stepped into an exhibit of water hyacinth products. With all the bad press that this infamous aquatic weed has been getting for aeons (and rightly so), something positive about it was definitely worth a visit.

Aqua Weaves is a term coined by the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation (NEDFi) based in our city. The corporation has been working on water hyacinth products for the last couple of years. On display were different kinds of bags, baskets, racks, chairs, table mats, lamp-shades, jewellery boxes, trays, and many more. Very soon there will be a show room for displaying the products to provide a direct link between producers and customers.

NEDFi was set up for the development of industries, infrastructure, animal husbandry, horticulture, aquaculture, poultry and dairy in the north eastern states of India.

Driving across the plains of Assam, it’s a common sight to see ponds and lakes clogged by water hyacinth/Eichhornia crassipes. Apart from using the weed as fertiliser, the weed has so far not been put to any use unlike other countries where this aquatic weed is a nuisance too. Paper and rope are made out of it and in southeast Asian countries the plant is added to pig feed and fish feed.

Some of the products on display. Assam has a long way to go but with the raw material so abundantly available and the artisans being trained by NEDFi will ensure that more products will be introduced into domestic and foreign markets.

The dried water hyacinth stalks that go into making all the baskets and mats.

Deepor Beel, the largest wetland in our region. It’s home to several species of fish, birds, and aquatic plants. Every time I pass by this route, my heart bleeds at the sight of the weeds choking up the area. But with NEDFi’s efforts, the term ‘invasive’ or ‘weed’ does not sound so terribly unkind now.

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About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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11 Responses to Aqua Weaves

  1. Mildred says:

    Hi Kanak, This is so interesting and the crafts are lovely. Hope you have a restful weekend.

  2. islandgal246 says:

    I have seen imported furniture made from this weed/ plant. In japan it is used to clean waste water on farms, it removes harmful toxins and the water can be used for irrigation. I agree that invasive and weed doesn’t sound too alarming now.

    • kanak7 says:

      Helen, that’s right. Other Asian countries have already been making the best use of the plant, I guess. Thanks for the info. I read that Thailand has been making w.hyacinth products for the last three decades!

  3. lotusleaf says:

    Kanak, I have really fallen in love with that beautiful basket. All the things are so beautifully made. Yes, invasive weed doesn’t sound too alarming now.

  4. Great photos Kanak – I never realised how invasive water hyacinth was – I gave up trying to grow it in my pond as it didn’t like our cold winters. Its really good that folk are finding uses for this “weed” – the craft work is very good and I would never have thought of them being made from this plant. šŸ™‚ Rosie

    • kanak7 says:

      Rosie, happy to be able to share this positive thing from my part of the world. The blooms are so beautiful that it’s nice to have a few of them around!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Good information Kanak! I didn’t realise their fibre is so tough and could make nice bags, baskets etc. How creative also. Have a great weekend!

  6. Stephen Klaber says:

    Sure, there are a lot of handicraft types of items you can make with his and other weeds. But they are not sufficient to cope with the felonious level of renewability it has. Only the food, fuel and paper markets could come close to depleting this plant. Deplete it we must. So, if this article makes you less afraid of water hyacinth, it has performed a serious disservice. Aquatic weeds are the driving force in our climate problems. Fear them, fight them, exploit them!

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