By Bukola Adewumi
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said it had trained 659 service providers on cassava weed control to tackle child labour.
Mr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project, made this known on Saturday in a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Abuja.
Dixon said that weeds were major constraints to cassava production in Africa, contributing to yield reduction and placing a huge burden on the lives of farmers, especially women and children.
He said children were withdrawn from schools to help their parents to weed, a practice that compromised the education of children and undermined their future.
“The gloomy side of weeds in cassava is changing and becoming brighter, thanks to researchers from IITA working under the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP) and the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI).
“In the last five years, the team has developed an integrated weed control package combining best-bet agronomic practices and the use of environmentally friendly herbicides in a kit known as the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management,” he said.
He said that through the approach, researchers were addressing the issue of child labour as well as building local capacities among youths to deal with the problem of weeds.
Moreover, the approach helped to provide sustainable jobs for young people in local communities.
According to the him, the team has joined forces with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to train 659 spray service providers in communities in Abia, Benue, Ogun and Oyo states.
The spray service providers comprised young men who were already resident in local communities, but were now being empowered on the safe use and application of herbicides.
The breakdown of trained participants across states showed that Abia had 105 participants, Benue 101, Ogun 122 and Oyo 331.