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Striga weed destroys Sh1.8 billion of maize in farms

Updated Friday, December 16th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

By George Olwenya

Farmers in Nyanza and Western provinces lose maize worth more than Sh1.8 billion to the deadly striga weed annually.

Experts on Thursday warned that the weed was posing a threat to food security in the region, as it affects more than 540,000 acres of crops every season.

Prof George Odhiambo of Maseno University said striga was a major problem in the two regions where most families depend on maize as staple food.

Striga, known in Nyanza as kayongo and Oluyongo in Western, affects maize, millet, sorghum and rice production leading to loses of 180,000 tonnes.

Odhiambo said effects of the weed were so immense that in a one-hectare farm a farmer can only harvest 500kg of maize instead of 5,000.

"But under heavy infestation of a farm by striga, a farmer could get zero yield," he added.

modern techniques

He was speaking during a striga weed demonstration site at Aboke in Ugenya constituency where farmers were trained on modern techniques to fight the wild plant.

The demonstration was organised by the implementing agency in Kenya, the Organisation for Transforming Initiated Technologies, which was represented by its director Mr Emmanuel Opil and programme officer Ms Joan Mwanga.

Odhiambo said the demonstration sites spread across Nyanza and Western were being implemented as a programme to fight striga under the Integrated Striga Management in Africa focusing on Kenya and Nigeria and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The sites are in Siaya, Teso, Busia, Kisumu, Rachuonyo and Migori.

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