The Cassava Weed Management Project which is managed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is assisting African researchers to gain new knowledge on advances in weed science by drawing the expertise of United States researchers and their Nigerian counterparts thereby putting alive the legacies of Charles Darwin and making him proud.

Launched in 2014, the IITA-Cassava Weed Management Project, as part of its sustainability program, is building bridges across researchers from developed and developing countries with a view to narrowing the knowledge gap, by raising the capacity of weed scientists through training and knowledge sharing.

The aim is to help Africa maximize the benefit of genetic gain which has been hitherto stymied over the years because of poor crop management among which poor weed control is a major factor.

Participants and facilitators at the training program
Participants and facilitators at the training program

This situation is exacerbated by low capacity and a lack of the critical human resource to tackle weed problems, according to Prof Friday Ekeleme, Principal Investigator for IITA CWMP, who also doubles as the President of the Nigeria Weed Science Society of Nigeria, during the recently organized 3-day workshop on “Herbicide Action on Weeds and Crops.”

The training, which provided the opportunity for the participants to access latest information in weed science, covered wide range of areas that explained the nature of herbicide, how it works, how it should be used and the effect on weeds and crops.
Prof Stephen Weller, from the Purdue University, United States of America (USA) while facilitating the session on “Herbicide Site of Action”, stressed the effect of the environment on the use of herbicides while adding that it was good to thoroughly read labels and understand the content of herbicides before use.

On “Herbicide Absorption,” Prof Michael Owen, from the Iowa State University, took time to analyse the area of herbicides’ absorption from the soil and the factors affecting soil uptake such as relative humidity, temperature, and light. He spoke on, “Adjuvants/Safeners and Herbicide Metabolism in Plants”, and explained how safeners work. He also listed the various classification and categories of adjuvants. Other areas he proffered insights included herbicides resistance in weed management and best possible options African researchers could take to avoid the occurrence of weed resistance.

Prof Segun Lagoke, of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nigeria, emphasized the need for weed identification as an important step to any weed management control.

“Weed identification gives insight into the anatomy, morphology, ontogeny, physiology and ecological distribution of weeds,” he added.
The 3-day workshop, which ended 3 March 2016, enabled participants to understand the requirements for effective herbicide application in weed management and touched on a wide variety of areas in weed management ranging from, plant anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, cell biology, herbicide chemistry, plant membranes and herbicide translocation, and soil principles.

During his opening remarks, Project Leader of the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project, Dr Alfred Dixon said the training was particularly designed to offer weed scientists access to globally current information in the field of weed management.
He encouraged participants to apply lessons learnt to their research work in universities, research institutes, the Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs) and also to disseminate the information to farmers on the field. “This will ensure sustainability and applicability of the knowledge acquired,” he said.

At the end of the 3 days, participants expressed good feedback on the quality of delivery by the resource persons as well as the quality of training module contents used during the workshop.