Omani students create perfume out of pest plant Mesquite
July 29, 2017 | 8:37 PM
by Times News Service
Mesquite is one of the prime Omani environmental hazards, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Photo-File

Muscat: While Omani authorities crack down on a weed called Mesquite or Ocean Ghaf, students have found a way to make an air freshener out of the menace.

Mahdi Al Lawati, chief executive officer of a student company called “Basees” or “Glimmer” in Arabic, said, “Naseem is a product made from the rapidly growing Mesquite trees.”

“The inner part and the main part is made from a special ingredient involving Mesquite leaves, which absorbs the surrounding harmful atmosphere gases specifically CO2 (carbon dioxide). Once Naseem’s life span ends it has an indicator, which is that it turns from a purple/violet colour into colourless or pale foggy solution. It also has an aromatic substance.”

In its natural form, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, “Mesquite is one of the prime Omani environmental hazards.”

“Its leaves carry a toxin that causes indigestion and its vast roots starve nearby plants, making it more difficult for wildlife to feed. Also, the seeds cause indigestion if eaten by wildlife.”

Mesquite was called, “The Devil Tree” in Ethiopia, according to The Scientific American.

“Mesquite (Prosopis Juliflora) first came to Ethiopia from Mexico about 30 years ago in an attempt to reduce soil salinity.”

“As it grew, it began to choke out native grasses and other plants, block access to water and soak up nutrients from the soil.” In the end, the tree almost starved out the last 140 of an endangered type of zebra.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth has teamed up with the Ministries of Interior, Defence, and Environment to form the Committee to oversee the Eradication of Mesquite, headed by .Dr. Fuad bin Ja’afar bin Mohammed Al Sajwani , Minister of Agriculture.

It has, “carried out operations in Sohar and Muscat, among other places,” said the Ministry, adding, “There is also a fine that can be applied for those who plant the weed in their homes.”

Al Lawati believes that there are other ways to deal with the plant. “As a student company from the Higher College of Technology, we unite students from a number of specialisations.”

The company had recently participated in Injaz Oman 2017, in which eight to 10 students formed a team to implement an innovative idea. “Ours was Naseem,” said Al Lawati. The product is also designed to be used in cars, where, “It can reduce the risk of children choking and also make it easier for those suffering from asthma.”

“There is another type of Ghaf or particularly Omani Ghaf. That one is not harmful at all,” added Al Lawati.

Despite the government’s efforts, Al Lawati is not overly concerned with how Ocean Ghaf’s eradication may affect his company. He said, “We have lots of future plans that cannot be announced at the present.”

“It’s really costly to remove all the Mesquite.” Also, he added, the favoured method of eradication is by burning the plant.

“You can imagine how that can affect the atmosphere.”

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