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WILLIAM PITCHER STUDENTS TURN SANDANEZWE WEED TO CHARCOAL

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MANZINI – They might have joined the teaching profession thinking they would be educators. However, seemingly, ENACTUS William Pitcher students who won the Preliminary round of the ENACTUS Swaziland competition, now have a change of heart.


The students have realised a business opportunity of collecting an invasive alien plant species, otherwise known as sandanezwe, around communities infested with it to turn it to gold.


They are converting the invasive species to lump wood charcoal, which is then sold to the public through partnership with shops, including OK Foods, Richfield Butchery in Nhlangano and the Galp Filling Station.


This project was competing under league two with AMADI, University of Swaziland (Mbabane Campus), Southern African Nazarene University (Siteki) and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.  


This project was first adopted and implemented at Ngculwini community, and has further expanded to Mahlalini chiefdom.
Chief Executive Officer of the project Basil Magongo said invasive plant species could decimate a country’s native species by attacking or out-competing them for nutrients, water, space and breeding sites.


Magongo said as a result, the availability and quality of natural resources were diminished by their presence.
He said invasive plants dominated pastures and crop fields, particularly if they had allelopathic properties, which means they release chemicals that suppress the growth of other nearby plants.


Magongo said the increased cost of land preparation and maintenance led to a serious concern for farmers.
“Invasive plants can also modify nutrient availability, by affecting soil pH for example, and cause land degradation and erosion.”  
According to Magongo, they had been able to impact communities they worked in through the project.

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