Biotech Updates

IITA Project Saves Africa from Striga Infestation

June 1, 2012

Striga, a notorious crop parasite, is one of the major problems of crop growers in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) embarked on a four-year project in June 2011 to develop Striga control techniques for smallholder farmers. After one year of implementation, the project outputs are showing encouraging results.

The project called "Achieving Sustainable Striga Control for Poor Farmers in Africa" project, or ISMA include using Striga resistant maize and cowpea varieties, along with "push-pull" technology. The push-pull technology involves intercropping with specific Striga-suppressing forage legumes, using Imazapyr herbicide-coated seeds, encouraging maize-legume intercropping and crop rotation; and adopting Striga biocontrol technologies. In Kenya, the project has reached about 6,000 farmers. Partner seed companies have also released 66 tons of seeds using Imazapyr herbicide resistant (IR) maize technology. The IR maize technology, together with the use of Striga resistant maize varieties, could decrease the emergence of Striga by up to 60%.

According to ISMA project manager Mel Oluoch, their initiative will lead to 50 percent increase in maize production and more than double the increase in cowpea yield, especially in areas that were previously infested with Striga.

For more details about the project, view;jsessionid=EAEA828BF7D00FD582044C4123803BCE?redirect=%2Fnews.