The Commissioners of agriculture have declared weeds as a negative influence on the yield of cassava.
The announcement was made in a press release signed by 14 commissioners of agriculture and issued at the 2018 Annual Review & Work Planning Meeting of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Cassava Weed Management Project tagged: ‘‘Unveiling of New Technologies for Weed Control in Cassava Farming Systems,’’ in Ibadan, March 19 to 20, 2018.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Peter Odebunmi, noted at the event that there were several rural farmers ignorant of how to get the best yield from their farms, adding that the outcome of the research on weed management will promote the economy of the individual farmers.
While speaking, the Commissioner for Agriculture for Edo State, Mr. Monday Osaigbovo, stated that it was high time weed control gained attention.
“If we do nothing to address weeds, we won’t be able to transform cassava in the country,” he said.
He stressed that to change the cassava story, there has to be a strong alliance with IITA Cassava Weed Management project, Federal Government, State Governments, the Private sector, national research institutes, universities, and other stakeholders.
While noting that Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, it is also important to know that the yield of cassava is low with FAO reporting a national average for Nigeria of 9.1 tonnes per hectare (ha) compared to Asian countries where yields are more than twice Nigeria’s national average.
Over the last four years, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project with donor support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has developed innovative packages to control weeds in cassava.
Results presented by the Project Leader of the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project, Dr Alfred Dixon, revealed that by switching to the innovative package developed by the Project, Nigerian farmers could record more than 20 tons per ha, up from 9 tons per ha being reported by FAO as Nigeria’s national average.