Bayer develops herbicides for cassava to tackle weeds and raise yields
12 October 2021
“The launch of Lagon today provides a big relief to farmers,” said Bayer Nigeria Country Sales Manager, Temitope Banjo. “These are exciting times for cassava farmers, and they need not worry about weeds anymore,” he added.
Weeds are a major challenge to increased cassava productivity in Nigeria and Africa in general, with women spending about 500 hours annually to keep a hectare of cassava weed-free using hoes. The manual method of weed control compromises the health of resource-constrained farmers, and in some cases, children are pulled out of school to support weeding.
When left uncontrolled, weeds compete with cassava for water, nutrients, and space, reducing yields by 40 to 90%. To tackle the menace of weeds, the IITA-managed Cassava Weed Management Project has screened more than 40 preemergence herbicides in the last eight years, both on-station and on-farm. The trials and subsequent demonstrations were conducted in Abia, Benue, Ogun, and Oyo states in Nigeria and in Tanzania.
Across the four states, which represent the key agroecological zones that predominantly grow cassava in Nigeria, cassava yields from Lagon-treated fields were more than double the national average and above 20 tons per hectare. Furthermore, cassava plants treated with Lagon were more robust than those on untreated fields or where the product was not used.
IITA Director for Development and Delivery Alfred Dixon said that the Cassava Weed Management Project team also conducted residue analysis on cassava leaves, stems, and roots. “The residue analysis provided negative results, meaning that Lagon is safe for application on field crops, particularly cassava,” Dixon added.
Farmers who use Lagon commended the Bayer preemergence herbicides for their efficacy.
According to Chichi Ngufan, using Lagon on farmers’ fields was doing “wonders” and helping farmers increase their yields and profits. Ngufan, a cassava commercial seed producer, said the use of Lagon has helped her group increase the size of their cassava farm in Benue.
“This is possible because we now manage weeds in cassava better,” she said, adding that with Lagon, farmers were saving more on weeding costs.
Ngufan called on the government to support the dissemination of Lagon so that more farmers could have access to the product and make more returns from growing cassava.