Business News of 2014-08-10

IITA progresses on weeds control programme for cassava

Dr Alfred Dixon, Leader for the Sustainable Weed Management Technologies for Cassava Systems Project in Nigeria, has said solutions on weed control in cassava farms are underway following efforts between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

IITA is one of the world's leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.

Its award-winning research for development (R4D) addresses the development needs of tropical countries.

Under the cassava weed management project, Dr Dixon and his team are conducting research that will develop new best bet innovative weed management practices, combining improved varieties, proper planting dates, plant populations, and plant nutrition, all coupled to intercropping and tillage options, through well-focused trials in the three agroecologies where cassava dominates in Nigeria.

The project is also testing herbicides for efficacy and economic merit to help make weed control in cassava more efficient and effective.

Dr Dixon said results from the five-year cassava weed research would be shared with the IITA young agripreneurs and other farmers to enable them to make informed decisions that would not only increase the productivity of cassava, but also make cassava farming more attractive and put money in their pockets.

“I am sure with the cassava weed project, we will be able to tackle the menace of weeds… so be rest assured… we will support you,” he said.

Established two years ago under the leadership of Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General; the IITA Youth Agripreneur program is an Africa-wide initiative that is attracting youths back to agriculture by exposing the youth to the numerous opportunities that exist in the agricultural sector.

At a meeting discussion aimed at unraveling bottlenecks to farming, especially among young farmers, young farmers in Nigeria identified devastations by weeds as the most constraint demoralizing cassava farming and hurting yields.

“Our experience is that even before you complete the first course of weeding, you see another set of grasses coming behind,” Akinyele Bankole, an agripreneur, said during a meeting with members of the Cassava Weed Management team at IITA.

“We have weeded about five times but it appears we are not doing anything when you see the weeds in the fields. This is the most difficult challenge we are facing,” he said.

“And sometimes it looks discouraging seeing our fields with weeds competing with cassava,” Evelyn Ohanwunsi, another youth agripreneur added.

Generally, farmers weed cassava three times, but in cassava farms where perennial weeds such as spear grass are predominant, more weeding may be required.

Researchers estimate that weeding takes 50 to 80% of the total labor budget, and up to 200-500 hours of labour of mostly women and children per hectare are required to prevent economic cassava root losses in Nigeria.

Last year, the IITA youth agripreneurs in Nigeria, cultivated more than 50 hectares of cassava, maize and soybean.

The group intends to more than double the hectarage this year as weather conditions look positive.

IITA works with partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture and partners to combat weeds in cassava.

Source: GNA
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