Research and analysis

DFID Research: Boosting income security and crop yields

DFID is funding research to help destroy Striga’, a parasitic plant that seriously constrains productivity of food staples such as maize in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Detail

Striga’, also known as ‘Witchweed’, is a parasitic plant that seriously constrains productivity of food staples such as maize in Sub-Saharan Africa. Causing considerable crop losses, it compromises income and food security for more than 100 million people across Africa.

Until recently, any herbicide that killed Striga also destroyed the host crop. However, funding from DFID’s Agriculture Research Team has enabled the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to research, develop, distribute and use maize varieties that can survive a herbicide (Imazapyr) that kills Striga even before it emerges above the soil surface.

Imazapyr resistant (IR) maize seeds are now produced and marketed by commercial seed companies in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, where they have boosted yields by up to 300% and have improved incomes by an average of US$ 400 per person per hectare.