Beware of striga weed

Saturday April 17 2021

A farmer displays the striga weed(plant).

By Charles Tabu

The rainy season started early this month and several farmers across the country have planted their crops.

Those who planted at the onset of the rains, now is the time to start weeding. Weeding is done three weeks after planting. 

Farmers especially those who planted maize can reduce weed infestation in their farms by 31 to 60 per cent by intercropping with other plants such as mucuna, an herbaceous legume that also increases soil fertility by fixing Nitrogen in the soil.
Mucuna produces a large biomass and can provide a ground cover that effectively controls weeds which compete with crops for water, nutrients and light.

The legume reduces the amount of grass in the field by 70 to 98 per cent in two to three seasons. Besides maize, mucuna can be used as cover crop between rows of crops such as oranges and mangoes.

Striga weed is one of the weeds that attack maize farms in Uganda and Africa as a whole. 
According to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the weed infests more than 20m ha of crops in sub-Saharan Africa each year causing losses estimated in billions of shillings.

The striga weed which survives by siphoning off water and nutrients from the crops for its own growth, causes stunted growth of maize by attaching itself to the roots of the host plant extracting essential nutrients and moisture necessary for growth.


Weeding and spraying of chemicals of one acre requires at least Shs72,000 per round. Two weeding rounds means the double the amount and hence by intercropping the legume with maize saves farmers in production costs.