Appropriateness of biotechnology to African agriculture: Striga and maize as paradigms

Appropriateness of biotechnology to African agriculture: Striga and maize as paradigms

Using biotechnology to effectively manage weed problems in African agriculture

Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, this paper presents both challenges and possible solutions over the weeds Striga hermonthica and S. Asiatic, which destroy maize, millet, sorghum, and upland rice.

Although organic and inorganic fertilizers can partially decrease the problem in the case of with introduced intercrops or rotational crops, it has been found that no control measure has been developed for subsistence farmers to:

  • locate financial means to use the necessary techniques
  • find appropriate techniques that fit their traditional cropping systems.
The authors argue that through the use of herbicide-coated seeds, maize yields could be substantially increased, leading to a positive impact on the diet of the poorest people, importation and distribution costs of maize in sub-Saharan countries.

The article warns that extreme caution should be used in accepting designations of what is appropriate to African cropping systems. Even though crop protection solutions rarely last forever in agriculture as the Striga will evolve resistance to the various techniques used, the authors recommend that if the seed treatment technology is integrated with hand rouging of any Striga and/or crop rotation, the duration of utility of all the techniques could be enhanced.
  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.