Bayer’s Lagon: Relief for cassava farmers on weed control
Weeds have remained a major threat to increased cassava productivity in Nigeria and the entire African continent, with women spending about 500 hours yearly 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.
Sadly, when left uncontrolled, the weeds compete for water, nutrients and space with cassava and depress yield by 40 to 90 per cent, leaving farmers with little profit for their sweat.
But it appears succour has finally come the way of the farmers as Bayer Nigeria has developed a new crop protection product known as Lagon, to help farmers tackle the problem of weeds in cassava to raise their yields.
Launched recently, the product has been tested on more than 200 trials and demos across Nigeria and Tanzania. It was rated among the top best pre-emergence herbicides for control of both grasses and broad-leaf weeds in cassava.
According to the Country Sales Manager of Bayer in Nigeria, Temitope Banjo, during the launch, Lagon will provide a big relief to farmers, as they would not need to worry about weeds anymore.
To tackle the menace of weeds, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) managed the Cassava Weed Management Project, and in the last eight years, screened more than 40 pre-emergence herbicides both on-station and on-farm. The trials and subsequently demonstrations were conducted in Abia, Benue, Ogun and Oyo states in Nigeria, and in Tanzania.
It was learnt that across the four states, which represent the key agro ecological zones that predominantly grow cassava in Nigeria, yield of cassava from Lagon treated fields were more than double the national average and were above 20 tons per hectare. Furthermore, cassava plants treated with Lagon were more vigorous compared to those on fields where the product was not used.
The Director for Development & Delivery (IITA), Dr. Alfred Dixon, said the Cassava Weed Management Project team also conducted residue analysis on the leaves, stems and roots of cassava.
“The residue analysis provided negative results, meaning that Lagon is safe to be applied on field crops, particularly cassava,” Dixon added.
Farmers who use Lagon commended the pre-emergence herbicides for its efficacy.
According to Mrs. Ngufan Chichi, the use of Lagon on farmers’ fields was doing ‘wonders’ and helping farmers to increase their yields and profits.
Chichi, who is a cassava commercial seed producer said the use of Lagon has helped her group to 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 the cost of weeding.
She 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.
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