category_publication

Striga infestation in northern Cameroon: Magnitude, dynamics and implications for managament

Ayongwa, G.C.; Stomph, T.J.; Hoevers, R.; Ngoumou, T.N.; Kuyper, T.W.

Abstract

Surveys of Striga (S. hermonthica (Del.) Benth.) infestation in northern Cameroon over the period 1987–2005 assessed Striga dynamics and evaluated its control strategies. In that period the percentage of Striga-infested fields increased in North and Far-North Provinces. Striga incidence increased more in maize fields than in the already heavily infested sorghum fields, where it remained almost constant. During the study period increased land pressure led to a reduction in the use of fallow and a higher frequency of cereal (mono-) cropping. Yields from farmers’ fields did not correlate with Striga incidence, confirming farmers’ prioritization of soil fertility, weeds, and labour for weeding as production constraints, rather than Striga. We discuss how conceptualization of Striga as a weed in the research arena may have led to a misunderstanding of farmers’ constraints. The decline of the cotton industry reduced farmers’ access to fertilizers, while access to organic manure remained limited, increasing the soil fertility constraint. We conclude that two decades of emphasis on Striga were unsuccessful. Enhanced crop yield through soil fertility management should be the entry point to tackle low yields and further worsening of the Striga situation