Weed control is a major challenge for rice farmers, especially in Sierra Leone where rice is a staple food.
To relieve rice farmers and help them tackle weeds more easily, a researcher at the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) has developed a manual rotary weeder.
“It’s often challenging for farmers to clear weeds from their field, as it makes them spend a lot of time and energy. To help them meet this challenge, we have developed a technology that enables them to better control weeds and prevent them from taking over the crops and causing yield losses,” says Dr. Abdulai Bangura, Researcher at SLARI and developer of the manual rotary weeder.
SLARI houses the National Center of Specialization on Mangrove Rice.
Developed to ease weed control burden on rice farmers, the technology is also effective for other crops, says its developer.
For the scaling up of the technology, a partnership has been sealed with a local fabricator who produces the machine and makes it available to farmers.
On the market, the manual rotary weeder currently costs 1,500,000 Leone (about 120 USD).
According to Dr. Bangura, this is an affordable price for farmers to facilitate the adoption of the technology, which will help reduce losses in the fields and increase agricultural productivity.
Indeed, “if not cleared from the fields, weeds can cause substantial yield losses. The manual rotary weeder will help farmers to perform weeding more easily, which will enable them to have better yields and therefore increase their income,” affirms Dr. Bangura.
The technology is also available on the Market for Agricultural Innovations and Technologies (MITA) platform, which specifies all its characteristics.
Some improvements are underway to address some of the farmers’ concerns, such as corrosion, and to make it easier to use, reveals the developer.