Rice farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) need timely and reliable advice to make decisions on the most appropriate weed control options. It is estimated that improved weed control, when combined with good soil fertility management, can increase rice yields by 1 ton per hectare. However, they have limited access to such information. Until now: The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) has launched a powerful new app that looks to be a game-changer.
More than a Nuisance
The RiceAdvice-WeedManager app helps African rice farmers make better decisions about weed management strategies by matching their specific farming conditions with available resources. Weeds are serious constraints to rice production in SSA. AfricaRice surveys indicate that farmers view weed infestation as the predominant biological constraint to rice production in SSA. Annual weed-inflicted yield losses in rice are estimated to be 2.2 million tons per year in SSA, resulting in at least US$ 1.5 billon in losses per year.
Rice farmers in all SSA rice-growing environments can benefit from this interactive app, from rainy uplands to irrigated lowlands. The app provides a range of recommendations for weed management based on information entered for each participating farmer relating to his/her field conditions, resources on hand, and current, specific weed problems. Each farmer decides which of the recommendations to adopt and then are further advised and monitored by service providers.
Free and Available
Currently being field-tested with farmers in Nigeria and Tanzania, the goal of the WeedManager app is to enhance sustainable productivity, which will lead to both food security and greater income for the farmers and others associated with rice production. It was developed in association with Co-Capacity, The Netherlands, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Rice Agri-food Systems (RICE). The app is based on the research findings of AfricaRice and its partners. It can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store on any Android device (smartphone or tablet), and is available in both English and French, with other language versions planned.
You can read more about AfriceRice and their work here.