The importance of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa

Jonne Rodenburg, Matty Demont, S.J. Zwart, M Cissoko, Lammert Bastiaans

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One of the less well known problems of rainfed rice in Africa is infestation by parasitic weeds, mainly S. hermonthica, Striga asiatica and S. aspera in rainfed uplands, and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa in rainfed lowlands. Affected areas accommodate some of the world’s poorest farmers and are reported to increase. Information on the regional spread and economic importance of parasitic weeds in rice production systems is however scant. Such information would greatly serve priority setting of future research and development undertakings.

Approach and methods used:
Data from various herbaria and literature sources on the regional distribution of the most important parasitic weeds, statistics on rainfed rice distribution and area in Africa from public databases and literature and yield loss estimates from literature and our own observations were used for economic and spatial modeling to generate distribution maps and best-bet estimates on the economic impact per country and for the region as a whole.

Key results:
Rhamphicarpa fistulosa occurs in at least 35 African countries, 32 of which produce rice in rainfed lowlands where the species thrive. Based on our models, the annual regional economic losses caused by R. fistulosa are estimated to amount to at least US $ 169 million. S. hermonthica is found in at least 27 countries, Striga asiatica in at least 16 and S. aspera is spread over at least 12 countries. In total 34 countries have at least one species of Striga, 33 of which produce rice in the rainfed uplands where these species can be encountered. Based on our models, we estimate a minimum annual regional economic loss of US $222 million caused by Striga spp.

Synthesis and Applications:
Parasitic weeds occur in at least 33 rainfed rice producing countries in Africa. Total annual economic losses caused by parasitic weeds in rice in Africa are conservatively estimated at US $391 million. Parasitic weeds, mainly affecting smallholder rain-fed rice producers in Africa, form a complex crop protection problem. Addressing such problems requires integrated approaches. Countries where investments in innovations for parasitic weed management would probably have the highest return are Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Madagascar.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event4th International Rice Congress - Bangkok, Thailand
Duration: 27 Oct 20141 Nov 2014
Conference number: 4ht


Conference4th International Rice Congress
Abbreviated titleIRC2014

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