L-R: Alfred Dixon (IITA), Lawrence Kent (Bill & Melinda Gates), Kwesi Atta-Krah (IITA), David Chikoye (IITA), and Friday Ekeleme (IITA) during the launch of the Hand Book of West African Weeds in Ibadan by Lawrence as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary of IITA in Ibadan recently.

The revised version of the Handbook of West African Weeds is a tool that will help farmers to identify and tackle the different species of weeds in the region, researchers say today.

The new edition has 52 additional new weed species, and 53 weed seedlings, and it builds on the earlier work done in the first and second edition while filling the gaps created by the emergence of new weed species in West Africa.

The revised edition, which was put together by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture managed Cassava Weed Management Project, seeks to assist farmers, agricultural extension agents and other agriculturists as well as institutions of learning that are faced with the practical need to learn and identify common weeds in West Africa.

Launched by the Senior Program Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lawrence Kent, during the annual review and work planning meeting of the IITA-Cassava Weed Management Project; the weed book is a must-have tool for stakeholders in cassava who are confronted with the problem of weed control. The launch of the book on 27 March 2017 was part of IITA activities to mark the 50th anniversary.

IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga said the selection of Lawrence for the activity was part of IITA’s recognition of Lawrence’s commitment to fighting hunger and poverty in Africa.

In his forward, Dr Sanginga stated that weeds have become one of the most notorious constraints to agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa and were undermining the gains made through crop improvement.

Emphasizing that weeds limit the ability of resource-poor farmers to expand their farm sizes and expose them to ailments such as back aches; the Director General stated that the weed album is an imperative resource material that will help in weed identification for all stakeholders.

Chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee, Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah, praised the IITA-Cassava Weed Management Project for revising the book and making it relevant. He described the book as an empowerment tool for scientists and students of weed science.

Prof Ekeleme, Principal Investigator of the Cassava Weed Management Project and co-author of the third edition of the weed album stated that the book, as a repository of weed knowledge, would go a long way to benefit schools and higher institutions where agriculture is taught.

He noted that any good weed control strategy must start with weed identification, and that “the book offers farmers and researchers alike the tool to accurately identify weeds.”

The 381-paged new edition, which was produced with funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has better digital photographs, two additional parts on weed seedlings and fallow species that appear as regrowth in arable and plantation crops. END

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, [email protected]