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Cumulative effects and economic benefits of intercropping maize with food legumes on Striga hermonthica infestation

Midega, Charles A.O., Salifu, Daisy, Bruce, Toby J., Pittchar, Jimmy, Pickett, John A. ORCID: and Khan, Zeyaur R. 2014. Cumulative effects and economic benefits of intercropping maize with food legumes on Striga hermonthica infestation. Field Crops Research 155 , pp. 144-152. 10.1016/j.fcr.2013.09.012

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The parasitic weed Striga hermonthica, commonly known as striga, is a major biotic constraint to maize production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where it causes serious food insecurity and poverty in smallholder farming communities. We previously discovered an effective control method for it involving intercropping cereals with fodder legumes in the genus Desmodium, commonly known as desmodium. The objectives of the current study were to evaluate cumulative effects of intercropping maize with the commonly grown food legumes on striga infestation, and to establish any economic benefits of the same. Treatments comprised maize plots planted in monocrop stands or intercropped with five different food legume species or desmodium. Intercropping maize with desmodium gave the most consistent and significant suppression of striga. Out of the food legume intercrops, only crotalaria, groundnut and greengram intercrops had significantly lower striga counts and only in some of the cropping seasons. Grain yields were consistently and significantly higher with desmodium intercrop, although they were also increased with food legume intercrops compared to maize monocrop, thus confirming superiority of intercropping with legumes over maize monocrop. Although production costs in terms of total labor and variable costs were significantly higher for the intercrops than for the maize monocrop, total revenue and net benefits were significantly higher in the former, especially for desmodium. The desmodium intercrop gave the highest economic benefits followed by crotalaria and greengram intercrops. These results confirmed the effectiveness of desmodium in suppressing striga and improving yields and economic returns to smallholder farmers. They also showed that it is profitable to invest in food legume intercrop systems, especially the crotalaria and greengram systems, and indicate that intensifying maize cropping systems through integration of these food legumes in combination with other approaches can contribute to an integrated management of striga and provide a more sustainable and profitable productive system to smallholder farmers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0378-4290
Date of Acceptance: 18 September 2013
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 10:03

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