Scientific Publication

FARMERS' PERCEPTION OF THE STRIGA PROBLEM AND ITS CONTROL IN NORTHERN NIGERIA

The parasitic angiosperms, Striga hermonthica and S. gesnerioides, obligate root parasites endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, constitute severe constraints to cereal and legume production in West and Central Africa. Over the years, a range of effective component technologies has been identified for Striga control in Africa. The potential of these technologies has been demonstrated under researcher-managed conditions. To promote farmer testing of the technologies, community workshops were conducted in 42 rural communities in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria. These revealed that agriculture was the main source of livelihood for most households. The three most important crops, maize, sorghum and pearl millet are attacked by S. hermonthica, regarded as the major constraint to crop production, often causing 70�??100% crop loss. Farmers recognised two types of Striga damage (underground and aboveground), with greater damage being caused by underground Striga. Farmers attributed increasing incidence and severity of Striga damage to lack of capital, poor soil fertility, infestation of previously uninfested land by Striga seeds, and continuous cropping of host crops. The most widely used among the 15 existing Striga control techniques identified by the farmers were hoe weeding and hand pulling, application of inorganic fertilizer and manure, crop rotations, fallowing, and early planting. In assessing possible control measures farmers considered increased crop yield, reduced Striga reproduction and Striga emergence, greater crop vigour, and increased soil fertility as positive attributes. Negative attributes comprised increased labour requirement, higher costs, increased risk of crop damage or yield reduction, and lower quantity and quality of produce. Overall, a legume-cereal rotation was the most highly rated control option for S. hermonthica management evaluated by the farmers. The implications of these results are examined with respect to farmers' adoption and adaptation of Striga control options beyond the experimental plots