Striga weeds have destroyed an estimated 600 acres of crops in Agago district. The most affected parishes are; Aywee, Gudi, Kiwaro, Ngwero and Luzira in Lokole Sub-County.
Also known as witchweed, Striga, is a parasitic weed that attacks mostly cereal crops such as maize, rice and millet. By attaching its roots to the roots of the crop to obtain nutrients, the weed leaves the crop undernourished and stunted.
David Okwera, a farmer in Ogolo Village says he planted four acres of sorghum and three acres of maize which have all been destroyed by the weed. According to Okwera, the weed seems to affect even non-cereal crops such as cassava and sunflower.
He explains that cassava intercropped with striga weed tastes bitter, while the sunflower doesn’t produce many seeds.
Okwera appealed to the Department of Agriculture and Production and the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries to devise means to kill the weeds when they have just germinated.
John Oryem Alutu, a farmer in Roma Village, Aywee Parish, Lokole Sub-County says he planted four acres of maize and harvested only three bags.
Alutu appeals to the District Agriculture Officer to undertake massive sensitization of the farmers on the kinds of crops to plant so that they are not left food insecure because of the weeds.
James Owiny Oyet, the chairperson of Lokole sub-county fears that the weed might affect other government programs. According to Oyet, several farmers opened their gardens with funds obtained from the Youth Livelihood, Parish Development Model and other revolving funds, yet many of them are faced with crop failure.
Agago District Agriculture Officer Charles Ojwee says striga weed seeds can survive up to 30 years in the soil and thinks that the striga weed invaded the area even before the people were displaced in the camps. He advises farmers to practice early planting and crop rotation to mitigate the effect of the weeds.
According to NARO, maize yield losses attributed to Striga infestation exceed 70 per cent, mainly when the weed combines with other constraints such as drought, disease, and nitrogen stresses. Statistics indicate that Uganda has 262,000 hectares of striga weed.