Striga weed ravages maize yields in Kasese.
By MORIS MUMBERE
Kasese: Parasitic Striga weed is costing a huge toll of maize farmers as their maize crops continue to loss yields season after season.
“The research we have indicate that striga weed has affected over 80% maize yield leaving farmers in a hug lose which we feel has to be addressed” Julius Rukara the district agriculture officer said.
The Kasese district agriculture officer Mr. Rukara while addressing the awareness meeting organized b y NARO and national crop resources research institution narrated that farmers have been reporting a strange weeding without signs but no prevention attain towards killing it yet it has affected major crops that benefit farmers.
Rukara added that striga weed largely affects cereal crops such as maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane, millet, cowpea, tobacco at a large scale.
“Striga hermonthica is the most dangerous weed that produces more than 200,000 seeds plant per season” Rukara noted.
Rukara further noted that the speed at which the weed multiplies in the farms cannot be controlled by many pesticides in a season.
Dr. Charles kasozi lwanga a researcher from national crop resources research institution blamed the rapid spread of the weed on farmers due to poor farming practices and sharing of garden tools from one affected farm to the fresh gardens leaving many farms with the disease.
Dr. kasozi added that most farmers fail to indentify the affect crops with signs like stuntedness of cross, wilting where crops tend to dry up, yellowing of plants which happens when most of the crops are planted in the highly striga weed places.
He further added that, most farmers harvest crops and put them on the ground instead of harvesting them in a bag so that they don’t get striga from the ground since the disease stays in dust.
Dr. kasozi advised farmers to harvest maize while putting them in bags to avoid contact with soil, rotating maize with non cereal, intercropping, uprooting striga before flowering and plant striga resistance verities.
One of the farmers Hilary Masereka raised a concern following same areas of Ibuga and hima in Kasese, where people have started smoking the weeds after realizing that farmers hip the affected plants on the road side and smokers take them without knowing that they are affected.
Hilary noted that the some smokers may plant them with interest that they continue smoking without knowing that they have planted weed.
However the deputy RDC Minadabu Muhindo blamed the scientist for not making one clear medicine that can cure the disease instead the bring several varieties which confuse farmers and end up applying whatever product they have been told by sellers in the market.
Muhindo said, scientist brought roundup, wild king, wind master saying one of these dry the weed and dies completely, but the end result none of them has ever worked causing confusision to the farmers which has caused the persistence of the weed due to lack of specific pesticide towards the disease.
He advised agriculture consultant to stand on one chemical purposely for one item to have a lasting solution not mixing up issues of preventing instead of cure.
“research say if they bring a lasting solution their product lose market, which influences most of the scientist to continue making more chemicals to yields money from farmers, instead of a total redaction measure in the district” Muhindo said.