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Improved Weed Control Helps Nigerian Farmers Record 27tons Per Hectare

By CHRIS EKEKE, Abuja

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP)  has helped On-Farm Demonstrations in Ogun State produce average yields of 27 tons per hectare.

In a statement to LEADERSHIP yesterday, it said this surpasses the national average of about 8 tons per hectare.
The statement revealed that the demonstrations were conducted in 2016 in the three senatorial districts of Ogun State using an integrated weed control package developed by the IITA-CWMP.

Presenting the results during the Joint Quarterly Review Meeting of the project in Abeokuta, a scientist at the Federal University of
Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB) Dr Patience Olorunmaiye, said, “The yield from the demonstration plots were impressive and a proof of the concept that if farmers adopt improved weed management practices, they would be better off.”

The highest yield from the demonstration farms was 32 tons per hectare with 96 per cent of the demonstration farms recording more than 20 tons per hectare.

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Principal Investigator of the IITA-CWMP, Prof Friday Ekeleme,  said the results clearly show that weeds were a major factor limiting the potential of cassava in Africa.
The don said, “In the last four years, the IITA-CWMP with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made a bold decision to unravel the puzzle of weeds menace in cassava.”
Working with a coalition of partners including the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, University of Agriculture Makurdi, the
National Root Crops Research Institute, and extension partners; the team set up trials in the three agro-ecological zones of the country including the humid forest, derived savannah and the southern guinea savannah. These trials led to the selection of safe and
environmentally friendly herbicides with other agronomic practices that formed the package that was used in setting up the demos in Ogun and other states of Nigeria (Abia, Benue, and Oyo). Results from the other states are also being compiled for analysis.

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Prof. Ekeleme  said the results indicated that the project was achieving one of its major objectives, which is to double the national
average yield of cassava, generate wealth, and reduce the burden of weeding in cassava farming systems.

Grown by over 4.5 million people in Nigeria, cassava is a major staple contributing to food security and wealth of the nation. Although Nigeria is a major producer of the root crop accounting for over 54 million tons per annum, average yield per hectare is low with weeds being fingered as a major block.

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Researchers say farmers cannot grow cassava more than they can weed—a situation that limits farm size and subject farmers to perpetual penury.

A director with IITA and Project Leader for IITA-CWMP, Dr Alfred Dixon,  said the project would help Nigeria change the narrative of
cassava production.

He called on the government of Nigeria to partner IITA in scaling up the findings of the project to millions of cassava farmers for
national development and poverty reduction.

The Project Leader commended the Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) in Oyo State , Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) in Ogun State, Abia State Agricultural Development Programme, Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA), Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP), and Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) for their support in setting up the demonstrations across the states

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