A don, Dr Hassan Hamidu, has urged the Federal Government to take the issue of weed management in maize production seriously because it has resulted in high yield losses.
Hamidu, who is a lecturer at the College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, made the appeal at a conference on maize in Abuja.
The conference was organised by Bayer, an agro-chemical, vaccination and drug company, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
Hamidu said in spite of its importance the yield of maize obtained in Nigeria was far below expectations due to weed infestation, low soil fertility and unavailability of labour.
“Maize is highly susceptible to weed competition, particularly at the early stage of growth. In Nigeria, yield losses as high as 51 percent to 100 percent have been sustained in maize due to weed competition.
“Therefore, weed control is an important management practice for maize production that should be carried out to ensure optimum grain yield,’’ he said.
Hamidu noted also that maize, being the third most important cereal crop in the world after wheat and rice, was an important cereal crop in Nigeria.
“It had a total production of about 11.46 million tons in 2014,’’ he said.
The don said the crop was also widely considered the greatest potential among food crops for attaining food security in the Savanna zone of West and Central Africa.
“Maize provides staple food to a large number of the human population in the world. In developing countries, maize is a major source of income to many farmers.
“In Nigeria, it is used for food, feed, beer brewing, fabric manufacturing, adhesives and in the pharmaceutical industries.’’
Also speaking, Mr Temitope Banjo, the Country Sales Manager of Bayer in Nigeria, said the conference was organised to address major problems affecting Nigeria’s maize farmers, such as weeds and fall armyworm.
“Over time, we noticed that the productivity of most maize farmers in Nigeria is quite low, compared to its contemporary countries.
“Bayer is a global company that is present in 55 countries of the world. We decided to create a platform to have stakeholders in the maize farming industry come together.
“We brought them to discuss, highlight and educate ourselves more on the problem, and to provide solution to them.
“We are also using the opportunity to showcase our product solutions to the farmers.
“We intend to also bring in government’s input through a communique prepared after this conference for practical action,’’ Banjo said.
He expressed the hope that farmers would be better educated after the engagement, and be empowered to have a better maize output.
The Bayer official said the company had some products which could eradicate weeds and fall armyworm, adding that these would be introduced into Nigeria very soon