A new project entitled “Striga Smart Sorghum Solutions for Smallholders in East Africa” funded through a GCRF – Royal Society Society, International Collaboration award, started in December 2019. This is a collaboration between Dr Jonne Rodenburg of NRI, University of Greenwich (UK) and Dr Steven Runo of Kenyatta University (Kenya).
The project aims to combine the use of Striga-resistant sorghum varieties with adapted fertiliser innovations in an effective and synergetic manner to achieve complete and durable control of this parasitic weed.
The majority of African farmers are resource-poor smallholders, fully reliant on rainfall for the water supply of their crops. Their harvests are mostly used to satisfy the food demands of their households. Yields on these farms are often low because of many constraints. Droughts, poor soil fertility and weeds are the main ones. Sorghum is a crop that is well-adapted to droughts. As droughts will occur more frequently with climate changes, sorghum is a popular and strategic crop for smallholders. The project “Striga Smart Sorghum Solutions for Smallholders in East Africa” aims to overcome the remaining two constraints. The most common and problematic weed for sorghum is the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica, which causes more damage than ordinary weeds. Striga infection can be reduced by cultivating resistant varieties, or by using fertilisers, which also directly improves productivity on poor soils. No solution alone however provides complete control. The project aims to improve and combine both solutions to help farmers obtaining complete Striga control and high sorghum yields.