Seed Treatments Could Increase Food Production in Africa

Roots

Seedling Disease: no treatment (L) seed treatment (R)

Seeds may be attacked by insects and pathogens once planted in the soil. Treating seed with insecticides and fungicides is commonplace in the U.S. and other developed countries. Contact insecticides and fungicides coated on the seed create a protective barrier on the seed that slows or stops the insects and pathogens from attacking the seed. In Africa, seed treatments are not widely-used to protect seeds planted by small-scale farmers and crop losses occur. Research shows that the use of seed treatments could substantially increase African crop production.

“Disease and insect attacks are an important constraint for crop productivity in the drylands of West Africa. A test was therefore included to find out whether treating seeds with a combined fungicide/insecticide could increase yields. The results showed that the treatment of seeds increased yields by 17% on average, compared with untreated seeds. A previous study showed that the average yield increase due to seed treatment with fungicide/insecticide was 30% for pearl millet in West Africa.

This study shows how low-cost options can increase agricultural productivity in the millet-producing areas of Mali.”

Authors: Aune, J. B., C. O. Traore, and S. Mamadou
Affiliation: Norwegian University of Life Science.
Title: Low-cost technologies for improved productivity of dryland farming in Mali.
Source: Outlook on Agriculture. 2012. 41[2]:103-108.

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