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Noxious Mathenge finds way on plates

By Caroline Chebet and Julius Chepkwony | Published Sat, July 28th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 27th 2018 at 23:23 GMT +3
Researchers have found a way of turning thr noxious Mathenge weed to a usable substance like chapati, animal feeds, and flour. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Kenya Forest Research Institute (Kefri) researchers are studying how best to utilise the noxious weed mathenge.

At Baringo County Kefri offices, researches have established that pods of the weed are highly nutritious and fit for human consumption.

Prosopis pods can be finely grind, sifted and mixed with wheat flour to make chapatis. The pods can also be mixed with molasses and used as cattle feeds.

Baringo County Kefri Director Simon Choge said the researches are seeking ways to curb further spread of mathenge by destroying prosopis seeds through grinding.

“We are trying to look into ways of controlling further spread of the weed. In Marigat alone, the weed has entirely eaten over 10,000 hectares of land. It is a stubborn weed but we have come up with some researches that we have shared with the locals. Prosopis pods are nutritious and can be mixed with wheat to cook chapatis or mixed with molasses for livestock feeds,” Mr Choge said.

He noted that the pods have high sugar concentration and if consumed by goats and cows makes the teeth to rot and fall off.

“The pods have so much sugar but when mixed with molasses or other feeds, they are nutritious and healthy especially in arid and semi-arid areas,” he said.

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The weed is one of the top 100 invasive species globally ravaging arid and semi-arid areas of Ethiopia, Sudan Egypt, West Africa, Australia, and South America among other countries.

Choge noted that in 1999 the negative impact of the weed was confirmed after outrcy and training on the management of the species started in 2005.

“The spreading has been so profuse and the only management of ballooning thickets currently is thinning. The seed bank in the soil is so huge and remains permanent that is why researchers are exploring other means of control by maximising the positives,” he said.

He said other countries like South America, Australia and Yemen are using insects to feed on pods while others are using chemicals to curb spread of the weed.

“We are trying several approaches and we are also looking in to introducing insects and testing on chemicals if it will work,” he said.


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