Striga can be found in most
sub-Saharan African countries
Striga, also known as witchweed, attacks cereal crops as a parasitic weed. This weed affects 300 million people and 40 million farms. Because of the lack of witchweed solutions, countries that did not have any infestation 25 years ago are now facing large amounts of crop losses.
There are various varieties of Striga, but the most common is S. hermonthica. S. hermonthica has had a severe impact on the agricultural industry. It is estimated that $7-10 billion of loss occurs every year because of Striga.
In Western Kenya, where our pilot project is currently operating, Striga has infected 217,000 ha of crop land. Roughly 30% of all land in Western Kenya is infested with Striga, causing $60 million of crop damage.
A map from Evans Atera showing the persistence of striga in Western Kenya
Striga is able survive drought and thrive in poor soil conditions. Persistent cereal mono-cropping, or growing the same staple crops for every season, depletes the soil of nutrients. As climate change is demonstrated in intensified heats and longer droughts that challenge maize production, Striga survives. Each Striga plant can drop 50,000-500,000 tiny seeds into the soil each season - and these can stay dormant for decades, only germinating when triggered by hormones put off by the target crop.