The areas in the African countries affected by parasitic weeds are home to some of the world’s poorest farmers.
Photo: © Erik Cleves Kristensen/ flickr.com

17.03.2017

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An international team of researchers representing the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Wageningen University, has raised alarm over the enormous economic impact parasitic weeds have on rice production in Africa, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of resource-poor rice farmers and consumers in the Region.

Smallholder farmers on the African continent are losing half a million tons of rice worth about USD 200 million every year because of parasitic weeds. This is roughly equivalent to the annual rice consumption of Liberia, a low-income country which is highly dependent on rice imports.
Parasitic weeds are among the most destructive and problematic weeds to control. “When these plants invade food crops, they turn into ferocious weeds,” said Dr Jonne Rodenburg, Agronomist at AfricaRice and co-author of the study “Parasitic weed incidence and related economic losses in rice in Africa.”  The most important parasitic weed species in rice are Striga asiatica, S. aspera, S. hermonthica and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa. They are all endemic to Africa and can also parasitise other cereal crops like maize, sorghum and millet.

The team of researchers from the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Wageningen University reveal that these parasitic weeds, which survive by siphoning off water and nutrients from host crops, have invaded 1.34 million hectares of rainfed rice in Africa, affecting an estimated 950,000 rural households.

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