IITA steps up en­gage­ment in weed con­trol re­search

Daily Trust - - GOLDEN HARVEST - By Vin­cent A. Yusuf

The Cas­sava Weed Man­age­ment Project which is be­ing man­aged by the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of Trop­i­cal Agri­cul­ture (IITA) and part­ners has or­ga­nized a se­ries of field demon­stra­tion vis­its tar­get­ing ex­ten­sion staff, re­searchers and farm­ers across the cas­sava grow­ing zones of Nige­ria.

More than 150 com­pris­ing mostly per­sons staff of Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Pro­grams in the four states (Benue, Abia, Oyo and Ogun states) and farm­ers par­tic­i­pated in the wellplanned ex­er­cise.

In Benue, the Pro­gram Man­ager, Benue Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (BNARDA), Mr. James Ker com­mended the project team for tak­ing steps to ad­dress the prob­lem of weed in­fes­ta­tion in cas­sava farms.

“I am im­pressed by what I have seen. I am hope­ful that soon the prob­lem of weeds in cas­sava farms will be a thing of the past,” he said dur­ing his visit of on-sta­tion tri­als at the Univer­sity of Agri­cul­ture Makurdi.

Ear­lier at the IITA cam­pus, the Project Leader, IITA Cas­sava Weed Man­age­ment Project, Dr Al­fred Dixon, while tak­ing vis­i­tors on a field tour, stated that “cas­sava is no longer con­sid­ered as a poor man’s crop as ev­ery­one is now eat­ing it in one way or the other.” He how­ever noted that the chal­lenge to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity of cas­sava was weed man­age­ment. “Farm­ers can­not grow more than they can weed and this is re­spon­si­ble for the small farm size which af­fects the to­tal yield,” he said.

Tagged “So­cial Pro­tec­tion and Agri­cul­ture: Break­ing the Cy­cle of Ru­ral Poverty”, the theme of this year’s World Food Day seeks to high­light the im­por­tance of re­duc­ing ru­ral poverty and grant­ing ac­cess to food or means to buy food.

Dr Dixon said ad­dress­ing the weed menace was key to women and youth em­pow­er­ment, stress­ing that women con­trib­ute more than 90 per­cent of hand weed­ing labour and that any ef­fort to ad­dress this con­straint would have a pos­i­tive mul­ti­plier ef­fect on women’s health and the larger so­ci­ety.

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