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Farmers test and select mechanic weeders in Togo

September 22, 2013

A major constraint for rice farmers in Africa is the presence of weeds. Weeds can cause significantly yield losses (even up to 100%) and removal is costly. Certain farmers apply herbicides before the start of the cultivation, but very often weeding is done by hand and often it’s women performing this task. The SMART-IV project has moved into a second phase after the successful start of development activities. In the demonstration sites new tools and agricultural techniques will be tested in a participatory manner. If necessary tools will be adapted to local conditions and once found suitable they can be introduced at larger scale.

Dr Atsuko Tanaka recently conducted a participatory on-site evaluation of mechanic weeders in two demonstration sites (Kemelida and Gnatre) in central Togo. The same trials will later be conducted in sites around Ouinhi, Benin. A total of 6 different weeders were tested in different conditions and thereafter each of the farmers rated the suitability of each.

Due to the shortage of rainfall, most of the fields were dry at the time of mechanical weeder evaluation. In Gnatre, evaluation was conducted on dry field and field with ponding water. In Gnatre, 10 farmers and 11 farmers participated in mechanical weeder evaluation for dry soil condition and ponding water condition, respectively. Kemelida, only dry soil condition was found for trial in which 12 farmers participated. On dry soil, ring hoe (Fig. 5) was most preferred. Out of 22 farmers, 73% farmers (16) chose ring hoe as their most preferred weeder.

The reason why the farmers preferred ring hoe was because of no need to bend their back for weeding, no back pain and quickness in operation. The least favoured weeder on dry soil was cono weeder because soil being entangled with nails and slowness in operation. For wet soil, on the other hand, cono weeder was most preferred followed by ring hoe. The major reason for preferring cono weeder was high operation efficiency in water.

Further on-site participatory testing will be conducted this season so that for the next SSD season (2014) the ring hoe weeder can be introduced at larger scale.

ring hoe weeder

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