Bayer Nigeria Limited has developed and launched a new crop protection product, known as Lagon, to assist farmers tackle the problem of weeds in cassava and increase yield.
Lagon, which undergone more than 200 trials and demo tests across Nigeria and Tanzania, was rated among the top best pre-emergence herbicides for control of both grasses and broad-leaf weeds in cassava.
Speaking at the launch, the Country Sales Manager of Bayer Nigeria Limited, Temitope Banjo said: “The launch of Lagon today aims to provide a big relief to farmers.
“These are exciting times for cassava farmers. Farmers need not to worry about weeds anymore.”
Weeds have remained 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 for water, nutrients and space with cassava and depress yield by 40-90%.
To tackle the menace of weeds, the Cassava Weed Management Project managed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), had in the last eight years screened more than 40 pre-emergence herbicides, 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 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. Also, cassava plants treated with Lagon were more vigorous, compared to those on fields where the product was not used.
Speaking, Director for Development & Delivery at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA),Dr Alfred Dixon, said the product launch accentuates the essence of IITA’s existence – to improve livelihoods through research for revelopment and partnerships that respond to agricultural realities and producing agricultural innovations aimed at banishing hunger, eradicating poverty, creating wealth and preserving the natural resource integrity.
According to Dixon, the launch of Lagon takes into account, efficiency, sustainability, productivity, environmental protection, improved lives and food security, noting that “all of which we take seriously as an organization in IITA.”
“I am therefore confident that the adoption of this pre-emergence herbicide will mark a turning point in farmers field activities and revolutionize how we control weeds on our farm to record high yields,” he added.
Farmers using Lagon commended the pre-emergence herbicide for its efficacy.
One of the farmers and Chairperson, Benue Women Association, Mrs. Ngufan Chichi, said the use of Lagon on farmers’ fields was doing “wonders and helping farmers to increase yields and profits.”
Ngufan, who is a commercial cassava 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 urged governments at all level to support the distribution of Lagon so that more farmers could have access to the product and make more profits from growing cassava.