Weed control as a game changer to cassava production


Research conducted by IITA Cassava Weed Management Project (IITA-CWMP) and partners has demonstrated that farmers can more than double cassava yield by switching to integrated weed management.

Presenting the work done by the IITA-CWMP at the 2017 IITA Annual Work Planning Meeting also known as Research for Development Week, Prof Friday Ekeleme explained that participating farmers in the project recorded an average cassava root yield of 22 to 27 t/ha across the four participating states of Nigeria. This figure is more than double the national average of 8 t/ha (FAO).

The presentation, “New Innovations in Cassava Weed Management” was authored by Friday Ekeleme, Stefan Hauser, Alfred Dixon, David Chikoye, and Godwin Atser.

Prof Ekeleme explained that the 22-27 tons per ha was achieved using some of the identified safe and environmentally friendly herbicides. The herbicides were screened from 41 in 2014 to 11 in 2017.

Another component of the IITA-CWMP, which investigated best-bet agronomic practices in the control of weeds also found that tillage, and increasing the density of cassava by planting at 12,500 stands per ha using vigorous growing varieties such as TME 419 could also control weed pressure and help farmers to go above the national yield threshold of 8 t/ha.

A graph presented by Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General, confirmed the work by the team of researchers working under the IITA-CWMP where more than 85% of plots demonstrated that best-bet agronomic practices raised yields above the national average.

Dr Sanginga noted that such discoveries from the IITA-CWMP underscored the importance of IITA research to Africa’s agricultural transformation.

He emphasized that IITA’s focus on research and its people were two cardinal objectives that would not be compromised.

Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader IITA-CWMP, said the project would intensify efforts to ensure that farmers are aware of the weed management technologies in cassava as the team plans to establish more than 100 demonstration farms across Nigeria next year.

The demonstration plots will be backed by training of farmers and spray service providers in local communities.

The overall goal is to raise the productivity of cassava, improve incomes, enhance environmental sustainability, support better health for women and children, and create wealth.

Achieving these goals requires partnership and the IITA-CWMP is working the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, the Universities of Agriculture in Makurdi and Abeokuta, and private and public extension service providers across Abia, Benue, Ogun, and Oyo states—representing key cassava growing agroecologies in Nigeria.

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