‘Integrated weed control critical to cassava revolution’

Integrating diverse but proven weed management options drawn from mechanical, biological, cultural   and chemical weed control methods could help small-scale farmers overcome the limitations posed by weeds and help them maximize the benefits of genetic improvement, Prof Ronnie Coffman, Director of International Programme in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IPCALS), Cornell University, has said.
Grown by over 4 million farmers in Nigeria, cassava’s productivity has been disappointing at about 14 tons per hectare as opposed to more than 20 tons per hectare in countries of Asia such as Thailand.
  A paper issued by IITA  explained that One principal factor that has kept yields low is poor weed control.
  According to IITA, in  most cases, small-scale farmers — especially women and children — use hoes, cutlasses and hands to weed, “The use of herbicides in cassava is growing but not common”.
Prof Coffman said efforts in weed management should be directed towards helping smallholder farmers.  “And I see the use of chemicals as one option that can benefit smallholder farmers,” he added on 2 September in IITA, Ibadan at a meeting with IITA researchers and members of the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project
The Cassava Weed Management Project is a five-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that is seeking solutions to weeds menace in cassava farming systems using mechanical, best-bet agronomic practices, and the use of environmental friendly herbicides.
Prof Coffman also suggested more research into mechanical weed control, saying that mechanization and integrated weed management approaches were likely to provide more sustainable results.
  Earlier, while presenting a seminar to researchers in IITA, Prof Coffman underscored the need for research that would create impact at the farm level with positive outcomes on the lives of resource-poor farmers.
  For sustainability to occure, Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert, IITA-Ibadan, Godwin Atser quoted him as emphasizing the need for greater support to the agricultural sector and commended emerging private sector initiatives in agriculture as demonstrated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme.