The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) managed Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP) says its on-farm demonstrations in Ogun State have produced average yields of 27 tons per hectare, surpassing the national average of about eight tons/ha.

The proofs were conducted in 2016 in the three senatorial districts of the 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 concept that if farmers adopted improved weed management practices, they would be better off.

The highest yield from the demonstration farms, according to the IITA-CWMP’s Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert, Godwin Atser was 32 tons/ha with 96 per cent of the farms recording more than 20 tons/ha.

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.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 FUNAAB; University of Agriculture Makurdi; the National Root Crops Research Institute; and extension partners, the team set up trials in the three agroecological 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 Abia, Benue, and Oyo. Results from the other states are also being compiled for analysis.

Ekeleme said the results from the state were a thing of joy, not only to the project team, but also to the country at large.He 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.

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.

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