Natural magic to counter Striga crop menace - SARID programme to benefit local farmers and enhance regional research capabilities
August 2, 2012
Africa is the only continent that cannot feed itself: food production per person is about the same as it was in 1960. One of the reasons is the prevalence of African witchweed, also known as Striga, a root parasite of staple cereal crops such as maize, sorghum, rice and millet.
A farmer inspects a crop devastated by Striga hermonthica. Compare to the taller,
healthier crop in the background, left. Image: J. Scholes
Striga causes estimated global annual losses of US$7Bn and adversely affects food security for more than 100M people mostly in sub-Saharan Africa; in fact there is a near perfect overlap between areas of Striga infestation and subsistence agriculture where hunger prevails.
Striga is considered the major biological constraint to crop production in sub-Saharan Africa, and the prize for controlling it is progress for the food security, economic development and wellbeing of millions of people living on the African continent. So researchers in the UK, India and Africa have been collaborating through the SARID programme (see 'Sustainable agriculture overseas') to develop research capabilities in Africa and use new methods to look for Striga-resistant varieties of crops.
More news from: BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)
Published: August 2, 2012