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News - March 27, 2017

Scientists seek solution to weed on cassava farms

A woman weeding

Scientists in agriculture have begun a project aimed at reducing the menace of weeds on cassava farms to minimize the burden on farmers, especially women and children.

The scientists said this on Monday at the 2017 Annual Review and Work Planning Meeting of Cassava Weed Management Project, held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

The project leader, Dr Alfred Dixon, said the five-year project which started in 2014 was to address weed menace and how to increase cassava productivity.

He said that the project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation would minimise the drudgery of hand weeding by women and children.

Dixon said that the partners in the project include: FUNAAB, NRCRI, OYSADEC.

He said that weeds were major problems of cassava productivity, contributing between 50 per cent and 90 per cent in yield losses.

“Weed control takes between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of labour budget; women account for 90 per cent of hand and hoe weeding.

“So, fighting this menace will go a long way to improve the agricultural sector and increase food production in Nigeria.

“The agric prosperity of Nigeria lies in our hands, let’s work together to bring Nigeria back to its lost glory in agriculture,” Dixon said.

Also speaking, Dr Hauser Stefan, a member of the Project Team, said the project was employing the best agronomic practices and mechanical weed control options.

Stefan said that the project was also applying safe and environmentally friendly herbicides, integrated weed control measures to address weed challenge while preserving the natural resource base.

“Working with international and Nigerian engineers, the project tested two types of motorized mechanical weeders from Africa-Rice Centre for testing in cassava farming systems.

“With improved weed management technologies, yields are more than doubled from the current average of 14 tons per hectare,” he said.

He also pointed out that some soils required application of herbicides before planting and stressed that proper tillage before planting was the best way of reducing weed. (NAN)

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