Twenty-three participants from partner organizations benefited from a three-day Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on the use and maintenance of mechanical weeders in cassava farms.
The ToT, held on 25–27 May, was coordinated by the IITA-led Cassava Weeds Management Project. The ToT came after Nigerian engineers came together and modified some imported motorized tillers from the United States. Other items of equipment used for the training were manual weeders acquired from AfricaRice.
The ToT will pave the way for extensive testing of the machines on farmers’ fields billed to take place later this year across four States in Nigeria.
Engr Thierno Diallo of IITA handled both theoretical and practical sessions assisted by Godwin Atser, Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert for the Project. Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader, Cassava Weeds Management Project, commended the progress made in the modification and adaption of the mechanical weeders, noting that the equipment would alleviate the pain associated with manual weeding using hoes and cutlasses.
Participants were drawn from the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, and National Root Crops Research Institute. All are partner institutions of the Project.
In the field, participants were given plots to measure and then asked to identify the weeds before the weeding exercise began. The participants expressed enthusiasm and said that they would put to use knowledge gained from the training.
Prof Friday Ekeleme, Principal Investigator of the Project, addressed participants at the closing ceremony and urged them to use the knowledge gained.
The ToT workshop was funded by the IITA Cassava Breeding Unit, IFAD-High Quality Cassava Flour Project, HarvestPlus, Postharvest Utilization Unit, Cassava Transformation Agenda project, and Cassava Weeds Management Project.