Firm develops cassava-specific herbicides to tackle weeds, raise yield

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• IITA affirms weed management efficacy
To help farmers tackle weed infestations in cassava and raise yield per hectare, Bayer has developed a new crop protection product.

Known as Lagon, and tested on more than 200 trials across Nigeria and Tanzania, it was rated among the top best pre-emergence herbicides for control of both grasses and broad-leaf weeds in cassava.

“The launch of Lagon today aims to provide a big relief to farmers,” says Temitope Banjo, Country Sales Manager of Bayer in Nigeria.

“These are exciting times for cassava farmers. Farmers need not to worry about weeds anymore,” he added.

Weeds have remained a major challenger to increased cassava productivity in Nigeria and Africa in general, with women spending about 500 hours yearly to keep a hectare of cassava weed-free using hoes.

The manual method of weed control compromises the health of resource-constrained farmers and in some cases, children are pulled out of school to support weeding.

When left uncontrolled, weeds compete for water, nutrients and space with cassava and depress yield by 40 to 90 per cent.

To tackle the menace of weeds, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) managed the Cassava Weed Management Project, and in the last eight years, screened more than 40 pre-emergence herbicides both on-station and on-farm. The trials and subsequently demonstrations were conducted in Abia, Benue, Ogun and Oyo states in Nigeria, and in Tanzania.

Across the four states, which represent the key agro-ecological zones predominantly growing cassava in Nigeria, yield of cassava from Lagon-treated fields were more than double the national average and were above 20 tonnes per hectare. Furthermore, cassava plants treated with Lagon were more vigorous compared to those on fields where weeds were infested.

Dr Alfred Dixon, Director for Development & Delivery at IITA, said the cassava weed management project team also conducted residue analysis on the leaves, stems and roots of cassava from treated farms.

“The residue analysis provided negative results, meaning that Lagon is safe to be applied on field crops, particularly cassava,” Dr Dixon added.



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Source: The Guardian

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